Former India pacer Zaheer Khan, a master in injury management during the later part of his playing career, feels that Hardik Pandya's workload should be monitored since he has had recurring lower back injuries.
In the last six months, Pandya has had two breakdowns with a recurring back-injury that ruled him out of the Asia Cup last September and then the home series against Australia earlier this month.
"When I saw him during Asia Cup, I was very concerned with kind of signs I saw on the field. But when I spoke to him (Hardik), I found out it's not a problem which he has faced for the first time. That's something which should be worked on because three or four years ago he had a similar kind of issue with the back," Zaheer, who is Mumbai Indians' Director of Cricket, said during a media conference.
Zaheer has observed that Hardik's injury is about the impact on the follow-through which has caused him problems.
"It is related to what he feels when he is getting off through the crease (on follow through). It has a certain kind of impact which he's been working on. For a fast bowler, the kind of injury he had in Asia Cup is not easy." Zaheer made it clear that Pandya is one plater whose workload needs to be monitored carefully and MI support staff is keeping a close watch on his fitness.
"He has to be monitored. He's in consultation with the team of support staff. Everything is under control. So far he has done couple of bowling sessions. He's going to progress in that fashion.
Zaheer, who is now the director of cricket operations of three-time IPL title winners Mumbai Indians, was also candid in saying that the pace bowling all-rounder's work load needs to be monitored closely by the IPL franchise.
"He is on track. Sometimes distraction will help to get back on track. He wants to go out and make the numbers talk and let everyone know his priority is cricket. He has always been serious and passionate about cricket," said Zaheer Pandya got embroiled in a controversy by taking part in a TV talk show where his remarks were considered sexist and was sent back to India from Australia.
He thus missed the ODI series after missing the preceding Test and T20 series due to a lower back injury.
Zaheer has advised Pandya to pick MI's bowling coach and former New Zealand fast bowler Shane Bond's brains as the latter had gone through a similar experience that cut short his career in full bloom.
"We have the great Shane Bond with us. You know the history of what he had gone through in his playing days. He's the right guy he (Pandya) should be talking to. He is someone who had that issue with his back which eventually had an effect on his career," said Zaheer.
"I have been having chats with Hardik around that, in terms of the general approach, what kind of feedback I am getting from him. I don't want to share all those feedbacks in this platform. But rest assured he is finding ways around that.
"In the shorter term it is not going to have any consequences as he is very much aware of where things stand. In the longer term he knows what are the things that are needed to get rid of those issues permanently," he explained.
Zaheer was also upbeat about the impact that two swashbucking players will make - the left-handed Yuvraj Singh who is set to make his debut for MI after being ignored by all franchise in first round of the players' auction and West Indies all rounder Kieron Pollard.
"Talking about Yuvraj, the auction dynamics are different. I myself have gone unsold in first round. Bringing Yuvraj in has been a boost because of the match winning abilities he has.
"We have identified that we need experienced batsmen to control the middle with Rohit deciding to open and we all backing him. Who is better than Yuvraj Singh? That's been the thought process. He's looking good and is looking forward to make an impact in this IPL season."
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