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Slowly building up Hardik for T20 World Cup: Mhambrey

Pace bowling all-rounder Hardik Pandya, who is gradually regaining fitness, should be able to bowl in the T20 World Cup with the second leg of Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021, which begins next month, acting as a measure of his fitness for the multi-nation tournament, said Paras Mhambrey, who was India’s bowling coach during the limited overs series in Sri Lanka.

Mhambrey said that it is important to manage Pandya’s workload in the lead-up to the T20 World Cup to be played in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) during October-November immediately after the IPL.

“With Hardik, we are obviously slowly taking it forward. I am not going to push him in terms of the number of overs to be bowled. He is pretty much being monitored on how much we are going to push him. We have to slowly build up. The World Cup is coming. For us, knowing that he is going to play a very crucial role for us, it is important to manage his bowling workload very well,” said Mhambrey, who has served as India A bowling coach and is the bowling coach at National Cricket Academy (NCA) where Pandya and other Indian bowlers have been recuperating.

“We know the batting that he offers you. But if we add the bowling to it, he brings a different dimension. In that sense we are working on it. Everyone — strength & conditioning department and the physios — is in sync and we have chatted it out,” said Mhambrey in an interview.

The right-arm pace bowling all-rounder, who has been troubled by back injury over the last couple of years, hasn’t been part of India’s Test match set-up due to his inability to bowl.

Although he bowled in the recent bilateral limited-overs series in Sri Lanka in July, he couldn’t complete his full quota in any game.

He bowled 14 overs in the three ODIs — two wickets at an average of 48.5 and economy rate of 6.92 — and two overs in one T20I.

Against England in March, he had bowled 17 overs in the five T20 Internationals, picking three wickets and conceding runs at 6.94 an over which was the second best on either side after Bhuvneshwar Kumar. He could complete his four-over quota in three of the five games.

Pandya also bowled in the third and final ODI against England and was quite economical, conceding runs at 5.33 in nine overs.

But India will need him to bowl full quota of overs throughout the T20 World Cup.

Mhambrey, the 49-year-old former India pace bowler, said that the Indian Premier League (IPL) will eventually decide Pandya’s availability at the T20 World Cup. It will be up to the franchise to decide on how to use him.

“Yes, the way I look at him and the way I feel, I am sure he will bowl [in IPL]. First step is the IPL. Maybe the franchise will decide how will they use him. That, kind of, will decide how it will be preparatory ground for the World Cup.”

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