Mumbai, March 7: It might have taken a little longer than expected, but India all-rounder Hardik Pandya is set to return to the national team for the ODI series against South Africa that gets underway in Dharamsala on March 12.
Speaking to IANS, sources in the know of developments said that the DY Patil T20 tournament worked as the perfect training ground for the all-rounder who has been working on his back ever since he underwent surgery in the UK.
"He is fit and is set to return to the national team. Having first undergone rehabilitation at the National Cricket Academy and now his performance in the T20 tournament has pretty much made it clear that he is fit to return to the fold," the source said.
Post his surgery, Pandya had initially hired the services of Delhi Capitals trainer Rajnikanth Sivagnanam to undergo rehab with Team India physio Yogesh Parmar keeping an eye on Pandya's progress post his back surgery in October.
But the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) President Sourav Ganguly made it clear that all players must report to the NCA to undergo rehab.
The Indian team management then convinced Pandya to head to the NCA when he trained with the players at the Wankhede Stadium before the ODI against Australia. "The team management spoke to him when he trained with Virat Kohli and boys on the eve of the opening ODI against Australia at the Wankhede Stadium and asked him to complete his rehab at the NCA," a source said.
Having completed the process, he returned to the field in the ongoing T20 tournament in Navi Mumbai and has already hit two hundreds.
Speaking on his fitness, Pandya said: "For me it is a good platform to see where I am currently and test my body. I am really happy with the way things have gone."
As for his blistering tons, Pandya said he keeps things simple. "If it's there in my arc, I just back myself and go for it. Most of the time, it comes out pretty well. There is no plan that I am going to go out there and smash it."