Hardik Pandya set to return to bowling in IPL 2024

Hardik Pandya, newly anointed as the captain of the Mumbai Indians side for the upcoming IPL 2024 season, has announced his readiness to bowl again after recovering from an ankle injury.

Hardik, who sustained the injury during the 2023 ODI World Cup, emphasized that he has been fit since January this year and is eager to contribute to his team's success on the field.

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Hardik Pandya confirms bowling role

“I will be bowling,” Hardik said during a pre-season press conference in Mumbai. 

“My injury in the World Cup was a freak injury. It had nothing to do with my past injuries, it had nothing to do with my fitness. I've been fit since then, but there were no games to play.”

Hardik Pandya
Photo by Icon Sport

Talking of the injury sustained during the home World Cup, Hardik explained how his attempts to rush his recovery for the knockout stages only exacerbated the injury. Despite the setback, the all-rounder, who returned to the MI franchise after two years, expressed his eagerness to bowl in the upcoming IPL season in a major boost for the franchise.

Regarding his new role as captain of the side, Hardik expressed confidence in maintaining a harmonious team environment, particularly with his predecessor, Rohit Sharma. There have been rumours on social media about a rift between the two Indian stars, but Hardik emphasized that their long-standing camaraderie, extending to over ten years of playing together, remains intact.

“I don't think it will be awkward or anything different. It will be a nice feeling because we've been playing together for ten years,” Hardik remarked. “I've played my whole career under him, and I know he's going to have a hand on my shoulder always.”

Mark Boucher, the coach of Mumbai Indians, also weighed in on Rohit’s potential impact on the team's performance. Boucher expressed confidence in the Indian skipper’s form and anticipated a stellar season from the seasoned player, free from the burdens of captaincy.

“I think Rohit is in fantastic form. I've been watching the games against England, and the way that he's hitting the ball, his movements into the ball are fantastic,” Boucher commented. “So I'm really looking forward to Rohit going out and really expressing himself, without the captaincy on his shoulders.”

Looking ahead to the IPL 2024 season, Mumbai Indians have bolstered their squad with overseas signings, including South Africa's Gerald Coetzee and Sri Lanka's Dilshan Madushanka and Nuwan Thushara. They also added England seamer Luke Wood as a replacement for Jason Behrendorff this week. The coach hinted at the possibility of fielding three overseas players in certain matches, utilising the wealth of Indian batting options available.

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“With plenty of options available, we can choose conditions-related strategies. There might even be situations where we only go in with three overseas players and have a look at the conditions to see what's best going to suit us,” Boucher explained.

As Mumbai Indians gear up for another exciting season of IPL cricket, Hardik’s return to bowling and Rohit’s renewed focus on batting will be the major talking point. Can Hardik sustain Rohit’s exemplary history at the franchise in terms of winning titles? We will only know with time, however, the fact that Hardik returns to bowl is a major shot in the arm for the franchise ahead of the IPL 2024 season.


Rohit is an experienced cricket writer based in India