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Hardik Pandya returns to competitive cricket with DY Patil T20 Cup

Ishan Kishan and Shreyas Iyer are also set to feature in the tournament

Shashank Kishore
Shashank Kishore
Hardik Pandya returned to competitive cricket by batting and bowling at the DY Patil T20 Tournament  •  PTI

Hardik Pandya returned to competitive cricket by batting and bowling at the DY Patil T20 Tournament  •  PTI

Hardik Pandya has made a return to competitive cricket for the first time since an ankle injury ruled him out midway through the 2023 ODI World Cup.
Playing for Reliance 1 in the DY Patil T20 Cup in Navi Mumbai, Pandya opened the bowling and picked up 2 for 22 from his three overs on Monday afternoon. He then batted at No. 10 and saw off a tense chase along with Piyush Chawla. Pandya was unbeaten on 3 off four balls as Reliance 1 beat Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited by two wickets.
Pandya has been working his way back to full fitness over the past two months. After resuming training in Baroda three weeks ago following his rehab, Pandya featured alongside Rishabh Pant in three practice T20s organised by the NCA in Alur last week. Pandya batted and bowled in all those matches and was subsequently cleared by the NCA to feature in the DY Patil tournament.
Pandya will head back to the NCA in early March for a final fitness assessment before he joins the Mumbai Indians' pre-season camp ahead of IPL 2024, which begins on March 22.
Pandya will replace Rohit Sharma as Mumbai's captain following a frenetic period of negotiations after the World Cup that led to the biggest player trade in IPL history.
Apart from Pandya, the DY Patil tournament will feature Ishan Kishan and Shreyas Iyer.
Suryakumar Yadav, who is still recovering following a surgery for sports hernia in Germany in January, will not play the tournament as initially believed.*
Kishan and Iyer's absence from the Ranji Trophy have raised eyebrows despite the BCCI's diktat to contracted players to prioritise domestic cricket and not just the IPL.
Kishan last played for India in December, and asked to be released from the Test squad in South Africa citing personal reasons. He hasn't featured in any red-ball games since. Earlier this month, Kishan was reportedly training in Baroda with Pandya, his captain at Mumbai, ahead of the IPL season.
Iyer's is a curious case, too. After being left out of India's squad following scores of 27, 29, 35 and 13 in the first two Tests against England, Iyer sat out of Mumbai's Ranji Trophy quarter-final against Baroda citing back spams, according to an MCA selector.
Iyer had experienced back spasms soon after the second Test in Visakhapatnam but was cleared for selection for the third Test. Fitness permitting, Iyer will return to lead his IPL side, Kolkata Knight Riders, after missing the last season with a back injury that required surgery.
*The copy was updated with the latest on Suryakumar Yadav.

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo