Former India head coach Ravi Shastri on Sunday recalled Hardik Pandya’s career-threatening back injury from Asia Cup 2018, saying the all-rounder has showcased tremendous mental strength to recover from it and take his place as one of the first-choice players in limited-overs cricket.
Hardik Pandya suffered a nasty lower-back injury during India’s Group A match against Pakistan in the 2018 Asia Cup. Hardik had to be stretchered off the field after the injury. Hardik was ruled out of the Asia Cup and in his recovery from the injury, the all-rounder struggled to bowl consistently for India and his former Indian Premier League franchise Mumbai Indians.
Hardik Pandya took a long sabbatical after the 2021 T20I World Cup
Hardik struggled to fully recover from the back injury and he was cautious about his bowling plans for both the senior national team and his IPL franchise. Hardik did not bowl a single over for the Mumbai Indians in IPL 2020 and IPL 2021 as he was bogged down by recurring injury concerns.
However, Hardik took a lengthy break from competitive cricket after the T20 World Cup in 2021. Despite questions asked about his absence from action,
Hardik shut out the outside noise and timed his return to perfection at IPL 2022. When he was named the captain of debutant franchise Gujarat Titans, plenty of eyebrows were raised but Hardik proved naysays wrong by scoring a truckload of runs and bowling consistently in excess of 140kph.
Hardik has now evolved into a crucial member of the senior national team, scoring 314 runs in 14 matches since his return to the side.
“There was pin-drop silence in the dressing room when that happened because we knew it was something serious and we had to wait to watch what would happen. And I moved across from the dressing room to the medical room, which was just adjacent to the Pakistan dressing room and he was lying flat. He could barely move, it was just his head moving from side to side. He was in real, real pain,” Shastri told Star Sports.