Navi Mumbai, Feb 28: Hardik Pandya hit four towering sixes and ran swiftly between the wickets at the DY Patil T20 Cup as chief selector MSK Prasad closely monitored the all-rounder's fitness level in his first game following back surgery.
The support staff of his IPL team Mumbai Indians was also present. Opener Shikhar Dhawan, who sustained a shoulder injury during the series against Australia and pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who underwent surgery for a sports hernia, played for Reliance 1 in the match against Bank of Baroda.
This was also the first game for Dhawan and Bhuvneshwar after their respective injuries. Besides scoring 38, Hardik took three wickets with the ball as Reliance 1 won by 25 runs.
Also monitoring the fitness progress of Pandya was India A and U-19 coach Paras Mhambrey at the D Y Patil Stadium here. Hardik, who has played 11 Tests, 54 ODIs and 40 T20Is, last played for India on September 22, 2019 in a T20 game against South Africa.
The 26-year-old Hardik suffered an acute lower back injury five months ago and underwent a surgery in London, following which he has been rehabilitating at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru.
Bhuvneshwar did not look in pain even as a slew of former cricketers including Pravin Amre, Kiran More, Zaheer Khan, TA Sekar and Robin Singh (all associated with Mumbai Indians) monitored their fitness.
Outgoing chief selector Prasad seemed pleased with the progress and said, "All three looked in good shape and it was good to see Hardik steaming in."
Former India pacer Balwinder Singh Sandhu, Abay Kuruvilla and a couple of senior officials from the National Cricket Academy were also in attendance.