Former India international Zaheer Khan has advised Hardik Pandya to be patient and not rush his comeback to cricket. Pandya recently was ruled out of the New Zealand tour as he’s yet to fully recover from the back surgery he underwent last year.

Pandya was named in India A squad for their shadow tour of New Zealand but was pulled out after reportedly failing a fitness test. He was subsequently ruled out of entirety of India’s tour of New Zealand tour.

Zaheer, who is the Director of Cricket at Mumbai Indians, a franchise Pandya represents in IPL, has spoken with the star allrounder to take his time and listen to his team and support staff.

“He should take this time to come back, 120 per cent,” Zaheer was quoted as saying by Sportstar on Monday. “When anyone goes through injuries, it’s not about coming back. It’s about how you come back. You have to be patient through that process, and listen to the team, which is around you in terms of support staff.”

He added, “You have to take your time. You can’t be impatient and rush to come back. It’s about when you come back, it should be in for a long time.”

Pandya hasn’t played any form of cricket since September 2019.

“You know, it’s frustrating at times when you’re away from the game, but it’s very important to stay patient and do the right things, and just control the things which are in your control. It’s about listening to your body, getting 100 per cent and making it sure that you’ve ticked all the boxes,” Zaheer, who took 610 international wickets during his career, said.

Meanwhile, India completed their maiden T20I series sweep over New Zealand with their win in the fifth and final T20I on Sunday. Overall, it was India’s third clean sweep in the format and Zaheer says it’s a ‘huge achievement.’

“I am expecting things to get better. New Zealand were having a tough time, they tried to find answers to beat this Indian team. But I feel 5-0 victory is a huge achievement.” They should take a lot of pride from what they have done from the New Zealand. It is definitely going to be a tough (ODI) series for New Zealand,” he said.

The two teams next square-off in a three-match ODI series that gets underway from February 5. “For India, it is about maintaining that momentum and carrying the confidence from previous series win to the ODI and Test matches,” Zaheer said.