Hardik Pandya wasn’t picked in Mumbai Indians’ (MI) final eleven since the resumption of IPL 2021 in UAE. Hardik’s exclusion has sent social media into a frenzy, with many questioning why he was dropped.

After an embarrassing defeat against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) on Thursday, MI bowling coach Shane Bond asserted that they are managing players not only from their point of view but also keeping the Indian national team in mind.

“Well, Hardik Pandya is training well, he is getting closer to playing. We’re obviously balancing the needs of our team with the needs of India as well. So, one thing this franchise does very well is to look after its players. Not only try to win this competition but also keep track of the T20 World Cup that is coming up next month. So, hopefully, Hardik will be picked for the next match,” said Bond.

When asked if the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has anything to do with Hardik’s stay on the bench, Bond said: “No, not at all. I think the one thing you want to do with your players in your team is look after them. We’re obviously desperate to put him back on the field and any player would be desperate go out there as well. But like anything you have to balance everything.”

Hardik has not played any competitive game since July when he was part of the Indian team that toured Sri Lanka for three ODIs and as many T0Is. Still, MI are expecting him to make a return in the playing XI at some point this IPL season and help them push for the playoffs.

“One thing our franchise does is look after our players,” Bond added. “There’s also no point in rushing him back to get injured and miss the rest of the tournament when we have a chance to win it. I think we’re doing the right thing and hopefully we’ll get him back shortly and he’ll have an impact in the back end of the tournament and get us into the playoffs and hopefully win the tournament from there.”

MI, who have slipped to the sixth position in the IPL points table, will next face Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) on Sunday, September 26.

“There is no point rushing him back to get injured and miss the rest of the tournament. Hopefully, we will get him back shortly and we’ll have him back,” concluded Bond.

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