India all-rounder Hardik Pandya has not set a date to return to competitive cricket as he begins recovery from the back surgery, but has said that the ultimate aim is to be fully ready for the T20 World Cup in Australia next year.
Pandya recently underwent surgery for an acute lower-back injury and has started his rehab in Mumbai by working on his strength, reported Mumbai Mirror.
The Baroda cricketer said the surgery was the final option as he was managing his back injury for many years and the reason to go for the operation now was to make sure he gets ready for international cricket and Indian Premier League in the lead up to the World Cup in November.
“Even if I take four months off now, I will still be coming back before the IPL, not even before the IPL, (but) before New Zealand, actually midway through New Zealand,” Pandya told Mumbai Mirror.
“That was the plan, (that) I play some internationals, I play the IPL and I make sure that I do not miss the (T20) World Cup. We decided the biggest concern was the World Cup and touch-wood it is right now in the frame.”
He was expected to make a comeback in Ranji Trophy for his state side at some point during the red-ball domestic season but Pandya remained non-committal about an exact date.
Focussing for the moment on building his strength back up rather than cricketing skills, the 26-year-old said it was important to remain positive during the rehab process and not be bogged down by the long break from the game.
Pandya said that physically he can always come back with training, but mentally it takes more time than physical. He has been taking lessons from his fellow cricketers to deal with the same.
“I have seen (Australia pacer) Pat Cummins coming back from injury, stronger than before. I have seen Jasprit Bumrah having a knee surgery and coming back and (being) what he is right now. So there a lot of cricketers who have gone through surgeries or bad injuries but they have made a comeback, and I have spoken to them and learnt that patience is very important,” the Mumbai Indians all-rounder added.