Shoaib Akhtar said that he had advised Hardik Pandya to increase his muscle mass.© Instagram
Since India’s semi-final exit in the 2019 ODI World Cup, Hardik Pandya has seen a drastic change in his international career graph due to fitness issues. The all-rounder wasn’t at his best this year and received plenty of criticism for his role in India’s exit from the T20 World Cup. Speaking on Aakash Chopra’s YouTube channel, legendary Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar revealed that he had predicted Hardik’s fitness issues and had also warned the Mumbai Indians (MI) cricketer. Akhtar explained that a lean physique has contributed to the 28-year-old’s back issues.
“I had told Bumrah in Dubai and even Hardik Pandya. They were lean like birds. They didn’t have back muscles. Even now, I have such good strong back muscles behind my shoulders”, said Akhtar.
“I touched his (Hardik) back, muscles were there but very lean. So I warned him that he would get injured. But he said that he has been playing a lot of cricket.”
“Exactly an hour-and-a-half later, he got injured”, he further added.
In 2018, during an Asia Cup group game against Pakistan, Hardik was stretchered off while bowling in the match. Since then, his career has been heavily affected with back issues and it also saw him perform solely as a batter during IPL 2021 for Mumbai.
Akhtar also stated that he had advised Hardik to increase his muscle mass.
Hardik’s inclusion in India’s T20 World Cup team this year wasn’t well-received by fans and pundits with many pointing out his fitness issues.
The Men in Blue failed to reach the knockouts after losing to Pakistan and New Zealand in the Super 12 stage. Despite not bowling in IPL 2021, he would resume bowling duties against the Blackcaps and Afghanistan during the tournament.
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