Hardik Pandya, the India all-rounder, has taken his fitness to another level as he sets sights on the ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2020 in Australia next year.
Pandya, who was rested for India's tour of West Indies following their semi-final exit from the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2019, has used the time to work on himself, embracing a new fitness routine. He comes back into the team for the Twenty20 International series at home against South Africa, starting Sunday, 15 September, and is raring to go.
"[The break] was important for me as the IPL was long and then the World Cup followed," he told agencies on Wednesday. "I had a good run in both tournaments. That required my body to take some rest, as precaution is better than cure.
"That is when the call was taken by the team management [to sit him out of the West Indies series] that I come back fully fit for the South Africa series," he added. "Neither the team management nor I wish that I get injured. The rest has helped me a lot and my fitness has gone to the next level.
"I started doing Pilates and that has helped me a lot. This isn't something very usual among cricketers. I wanted to see how it works and it has worked really well. This last month, I trained twice a day. It was important that I try something new to improve my back. It was important for me and my game to take this break."
The South Africa series is the first for Pandya since the World Cup. The all-rounder took 10 wickets and made 226 runs at 32.28 in the tournament, and was one of only six players to feature in all nine matches played by the team. He made 32 in the semi-final loss to New Zealand, but was keen to put that behind him and turn his focus to T20 cricket, with the World Cup coming up in October-November next year.
"[The loss] was difficult and we all felt the same pain, but life moves on," he said. "I would have been more upset if we as a team hadn't done justice to our performance. We played as champions and except for those 30 minutes, I thought we played outstandingly and everyone was contributing and looking to excel. It is just how it is at the knockout stage.
"We have kind of moved on and we want to focus on the next World Cup and win that."
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