ANI Photo | “I’m a turtle, not a rabbit…”: India’s Hardik Pandya on his bowling workload 

Indian all-rounder Hardik Pandya said that he is ready to take up a significantly higher bowling workload as he builds towards the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 at home from October 5 to November 19, but added that he is still “a turtle, not a rabbit”. 
The all-rounder is currently with India’s white-ball squad for series in West Indies, he had a full two months off after Indian Premier League (IPL) concluded on May 29. In this period, he “switched off” for a month and underwent physical conditioning for three weeks at the National Cricket Academy where there was equal focus on both skill and fitness. 
Ahead of the series, he had said that he had informed the management of his keenness to play if he could contribute with the ball too. 
In the IPL 2023, Pandya bowled 25 overs in 16 matches for runners-up Gujarat Titans. Across 2 ODIs in the Windies, Pandya has bowled a total of 9.4 overs. In the first match, he opened the bowling and was required for only three overs which saw only 45.5 overs being bowled. In the second match, he bowled 6.4 overs and went wicketless in the match, which West Indies won to level the series. 
He led the side in place of a rested Rohit Sharma in the 2nd ODI. Pandya talked about how he is slowly increasing his bowling workload with the World Cup on his mind. After this series against the Windies, his next 50-over assignment is likely to be the Asia Cup from August 30 onwards. In between, he will lead India in the T20I series against West Indies, starting from August 3 onwards. 
“My body is fine. I have to bowl more overs and get my workload up for the World Cup. I am a turtle right now, not a rabbit and hoping everything goes right as the World Cup comes on,” said Pandya ahead of the final ODI as quoted by ESPNCricinfo. 
On Sunday, head coach Rahul Dravid highlighted the need to look at the bigger picture instead of focusing and getting influenced by short-term results. During this series, India has given a lot of opportunities to players who are not so frequently present in the playing eleven in the absence of regulars like KL Rahul, Rishabh Pant, Mohammed Shami, Shreyas Iyer, Jasprit Bumrah etc who are either recovering from injuries or in Shami’s case, are rested. 
Hardik is excited about the series decider, which will take place on Tuesday. 
“To be honest, you want to be going 1-1 to the third game as it will be more challenging and exciting. They will be tested; we will be tested now that the series stands 1-1. The next game will be exciting for the viewers as well as the players,” he said. 
With the bat, Hardik has not been able to be at his best. In the first match, he came at number four, he could score just five runs. In the second, he could get just seven runs. He was the part of India’s batting collapse that ended with them being bundled out for 181, a score which Windies chased down. 
“We didn’t bat the way we were supposed to. The wicket was better than it was in the first game. Everyone barring Shubman (Gill) hit fielders and got out. Disappointing, but there are many things to learn,” he concluded. (ANI)

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