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Hardik Pandya takes 2-22 on return to competitive cricket at DY Patil T20 Cup

IANS | February 26, 2024 04:44 PM

NAVI MUMBAI: Fast-bowling all-rounder Hardik Pandya picked figures of 2-22 on his return to competitive cricket action after almost four months at the DY Patil T20 Cup, where he captained Reliance 1 in the opening game of the competition against Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) here on Monday.

At the DY Patil Cricket Academy, Pandya, who was recently seen at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru, opened the bowling and took the wickets of Eknath Kerkar (caught & bowled) and Rahul Tripathi for a duck. Interestingly, he then came out to bat at No.10 and remained unbeaten on three off four balls as Reliance 1 beat Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited by two wickets in a tense chase of 126.

Pandya was out of competitive cricketing action after sustaining a left ankle injury during India’s league match against Bangladesh in the 2023 Men’s ODI World Cup in Pune on October 19. Shortly after, he was ruled out of the campaign and put on a long recovery plus rehab route to ensure his long-term availability for future events.

In December 2023, he was traded to Mumbai Indians from Gujarat Titans and became the side’s skipper, replacing five-time championship-winning captain Rohit Sharma in the top job ahead of IPL 2024, starting on March 22.

In the DY Patil T20 Cup, Pandya is leading the Reliance 1 team which also features the likes of Tilak Verma, Nehal Wadhera, Piyush Chawla, Naman Dhir, Akash Madhwal and Vishnu Vinod. The BPCL team includes players like Sandeep Sharma, Rahul Tripathi, Anukul Roy, Shreyas Gopal, and Ramandeep Singh.

Ishan Kishan, who has been out of competitive cricket after pulling out of India’s Test tour of South Africa last year due to personal reasons, is expected to play in the tournament possibly for the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) side, who have their first match of the tournament on Tuesday.

Kishan had been in Baroda since January, where he was training alongside Hardik and his elder brother Krunal Pandya. Apart from him, Suryakumar Yadav, Dinesh Karthik and Shreyas Iyer are expected to feature in the tournament.

Suryakumar has been on the recovery route after sustaining an ankle injury and undergoing a Hernia operation in Germany. On the other hand, Shreyas was omitted from India’s squad for the last three Tests against England and opted out of playing Mumbai’s quarterfinal in the Ranji Trophy due to back spasms.

The DY Patil T20 Cup is deemed by many Indian players to get crucial game time ahead of the IPL by playing for their office teams. The 16 teams will be divided into four groups of four each, following which quarterfinals will be played on March 7 and 8 respectively. The tournament will end with the semifinals and final on March 9.

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