Hardik Pandya's journey to fitness: NCA unveils tailored 18-week rehabilitation program
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the National Cricket Academy (NCA) have adopted a patient approach for the return of Hardik Pandya to the Team India fold.
Hardik Pandya, last seen in action during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 against Bangladesh on October 19, encountered a 'freak injury' that prematurely concluded his tournament. The Indian cricket authorities, recognising the significance of his role, have chosen a comprehensive approach to his recovery.
Currently undergoing an 18-week personalised high-performance program at the National Cricket Academy (NCA), Pandya's daily activities are meticulously planned until March. The program includes cardio, strength training, functional exercises, and dedicated periods for rest and recovery. Progress is closely monitored to evaluate his response to the program's various components.
According to a source, the focus is on workload management and setting long-term goals for Pandya's enduring effectiveness as a T20 cricketer. The approach aligns with similar programs undertaken by players like Jasprit Bumrah, Shreyas Iyer, and KL Rahul during their injury layoffs.
Despite the option for Pandya to participate in the T20Is against Afghanistan, the decision prioritises overall fitness standards over immediate skill development. The strategy aims to sustain a focus on his fitness, deferring a skill-based approach until his overall readiness is ensured.
Importantly, Hardik Pandya does not currently grapple with fitness issues. Having undergone back surgery in 2019, resulting in a lengthy recovery, he has maintained a sound fitness record since then. The ankle injury suffered during the World Cup was an unfortunate incident, occurring as he slipped while attempting to stop a ball.