'I've been fit' - Mumbai Indians skipper Hardik Pandya confirms role for IPL 2024

Hardik Pandya has been out of action from international cricket since the 2023 ODI World Cup. He is set to lead Mumbai Indians in IPL 2024.

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Hardik Pandya speaks at the pre-season press conference.

Mumbai Indians captain Hardik Pandya has confirmed that he will bowl in the upcoming season of IPL 2024. Hardik said that he is fit since January but had no games to play to prove his fitness. The allrounder injured his ankle during the ODI World Cup 2023 match against Bangladesh, after which he was ruled out of the World Cup.

Since then, Pandya has missed the white-ball series in South Africa, home T20I series against Australia and Afghanistan as well. He maintained that he will play as an allrounder in the upcoming IPL. While speaking at a pre-season press conference, Pandya confirmed his bowling status.

"Yes, I will be bowling. My injury in the World Cup was a freak injury. It had nothing to do with my past injuries, it had nothing to do with my fitness. When I got fit, the Afghanistan series had just started (in January). I've been fit since then, but there were no games to play," Hardik said.

"My injury, from day one, showed that I'm going to be out of the World Cup, but playing for India has always been special, especially in a World Cup. So we pushed for ten days - we knew that it's an uphill task to be fit for the World Cup semi-finals or finals. When we pushed, I kind of triggered my injury [further], and the injury became a little longer," Hardik explained about his ankle injury.

'I don't think it will be awkward, or anything different:' Hardik Pandya on playing with Rohit Sharma

Hardik Pandya replaced Rohit Sharma as MI captain before IPL 2024 auction. The news came in as a shock for the cricketing world and the franchise was criticized for Rohit's sudden removal as captain. On Monday, Pandya also spoke about his relationship with Rohit Sharma and working with him in IPL 2024.

"I don't think it will be awkward, or anything different, it will be a nice feeling because we've been playing (together) for ten years. I've played my whole career under him, and I know he's going to have a hand on my shoulder always," the 30-year-old allrounder said.

"He's been traveling, he's been playing. It's been a couple of months since we've seen each other. Once he comes [and joins the MI camp], we'll definitely have a chat," Hardik added.

Mumbai Indians coach Mark Boucher lauded Rohit Sharma's current form and said that the removal of captaincy will help him play with freedom.

"I think Rohit's in fantastic form. I've been watching the games against England and the way that he's hitting the ball, his movements into the ball are fantastic," Boucher said. "So I'm really looking forward to Rohit going out and really expressing himself, without the captaincy on his shoulders," Boucher said.

Also read: Mumbai Indians sign English speedster as a like-for-like replacement for Aussie pacer

Mumbai Indians are the five-time IPL champions. All of their titles have come under the leadership of Rohit Sharma. Rohit Sharma's removal from captaincy is expected to be the biggest talking point of this year's IPL. Mumbai Indians will begin their IPL 2024 campaign against Gujarat Titans on March 24 at Ahmedabad.

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