Hardik Pandya Recounts Injury Ordeal That Sidelined Him During World Cup 2023

The Indian team had to face the challenging ODI World Cup 2023 without their star all-rounder, Hardik Pandya, following an untimely ankle injury that saw him leave the field during a critical group stage match. It was the 19th of October, 2023, in the heat of the competition against Bangladesh, when Pandya’s campaign was abruptly halted. The extent of the injury was such that it not only forced him out of the ongoing World Cup, but it also led to his absence from subsequent series played by India.

Now, as Hardik Pandya prepares to take the lead as the captain for the Mumbai Indians in the IPL 2024, he reflects on the journey of recovery and the struggles that sidelined him during a crucial time for the Indian team. In a candid conversation with Star Sports, the dynamic player shared the initial optimism he had regarding his injury, expecting a quick five-day return, and the eventual setback that extended his rehabilitation period.

“I don’t start preparations for a tournament 2-3 months before,” Pandya stated, emphasizing his commitment and the extensive planning that went into his World Cup preparations. Speaking about the unfortunate twist of fate he said, “This was a freak injury. Very few people know that my injury was extended because when I got injured, it was meant to be for 25 days only. But I pushed. I was like, ‘I had come back’. When I left the team, I told the management, ‘main 5 din me vaapis aa raha hu’ (I will return in five days).”

His determination to rejoin the team, despite the risk to his own fitness, was a testament to his dedication and love for the game. Pandya underwent excruciating procedures to alleviate the swelling in his ankle, receiving injections at three different points and even having to have blood removed. “If there was a 1 per cent chance of being with the team, I would,” he recounted, revealing his mindset during the ordeal.

However, despite Pandya’s valiant efforts, his condition worsened. A recurrence of the injury not only lengthened the recovery time to three months but also incapacitated him to the point where walking was a challenge, nevertheless, he was endeavoring to run. Painkillers became a temporary solution as he held onto the hope of making a comeback. “The biggest pride for me is to play for the country, and the World Cup at home was my baby. I missed out on that, and it is something that is going to be heavy on the heart,” Pandya conveyed with palpable emotion.

As the World Cup proceeded without him, Pandya was absent from the field for India’s face-offs in three T20I series against notable adversaries, Australia, South Africa, and Afghanistan. This hiatus from international cricket, albeit involuntary, has now set the stage for a much-anticipated return.

Pandya’s focus is now on the IPL 2024, where he will lead the Mumbai Indians with an eye towards the T20 World Cup in June 2024. His journey serves not only as a story of resilience but also as a potent reminder of the physical toll top-level sports can exact on athletes. As he gears up for his leadership role in the IPL, fans and teammates alike are eager to witness his anticipated comeback and hope to see him at his finest once again, free of injury and with the same vigor that makes him an invaluable asset to his team and to the cricketing world.

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