Hardik Pandya reports to the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru, where he will undergo fitness tests in the following days before gaining a clear lead over the Gujarat Titans in the upcoming Indian Premier League.
The most interesting aspect that can be seen during the rehearsals is when the 28-year-old player gets permission to fully occupy the cash rich league, where the Titans will launch their campaign against the Lucknow Super Giants on March 28.
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"Hardik will be at the NCA for next two days and appear in the various fitness tests. He is a centrally contracted cricketer and has not played any cricket since T20 World Cup in UAE," the source said.
"He would need to pass the fitness test as it has been mandatory for some time now. Last year, even Shreyas Iyer appeared for a fitness test post shoulder surgery before playing IPL," he added.
The NCA national team and medical staff are constantly looking for their central contract players and know that Hardik has done several training sessions at the Titans' short five-day training camp in Baroda.
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He is known to be fully prepared in terms of batting and fitness in the field, and playing as a pure batsman can be no problem for the ostentatious Universal Baroda all-rounder.
However, it is known that he could still bend to 75 percent of his full potential or whatever it was before he suffered a lower back injury that led to surgery in 2019.
"If Gujarat is looking at a pure batter, a skipper and a finisher, Hardik, in all likelihood, is ready but it will be interesting to see what is NCA's Sports Science and Medicine team's take on his bowling. Is he ready to bowl at 135 clicks upwards?" the source privy to developments said.
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Hardik put the cards to his chest during the introduction of the Gujarat Titans jersey and said that his bowling was a "surprise".
However, voter chairman Chetan Sharma said recently at a media conference that his committee would control Hardik and only consider whether he would always roll as in the old days.
It is not yet known when and when this will happen, but IPL 2022 could see the evolution of Hardik Pandya, pure batter.
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