Hardik Pandya believes that he has become more focused and matured in his work ethics by being around the Indian team over last one year, which helped him to make his career more systematic. He has also said that he wants to make a mark in the selectors' minds in the warm-up game.
Since making his international debut in the Twenty20 series against Australia in January 2016, Pandya has gradually become India’s go-to-all-rounder in the shorter formats of the game. Despite being in the squad for the Test series against England and Bangladesh, the Baroda all-rounder is yet to make his Test debut.
“If you see, my graph is going higher, I am slightly more mature and I am learning things because I am traveling with the team. That was the only reason that I thought I made a comeback after a poor IPL. I want to focus on improving my game,” he said in the press conference ahead of the warm-up match between India A and Australia.“That’s why it’s called Test- where it’s not that easy to play a game and get success. As cricketers, we all want to play Tests because there is a lot of learning involved in the format.
“I have matured in my work ethic, I am more focused towards it. Things which I was doing before have changed now — from eating to sleeping to training, and following a diet helps a lot. I am stronger than before, I am eating proper food, I am more concentrated on training, I am reading the game more. We have Kohli as a prime example and how things changed for him. We always look up to him, how he trains and is always working hard on his fitness.”
Pandya is leading the India-A side in their three-day warm-up game against the visiting Australians at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai and is looking forward to making his own case for a Test debut.
“I feel this is a great opportunity for us, for everyone, to show what they have because Australia is a very competitive side and this will be the ideal opportunity to do something amazing which will have a good impact on the selectors. This is not just for me but for the team and all of us to do something.
“This will be a very competitive game since we have such good talent in our team and they also have scored enough runs and taken enough wickets to beat the India A side. The Australians are the experienced side, so it will be a good competition.”
Welcoming the additional responsibility of the captaincy, Pandya said, “It’s good that you have been given charge of a team which also is an opportunity and responsibility. It will be a different experience for me since I have never done that, so I have to play with some responsibility which is ultimately going to help improve my game. With captaincy, you think a bit differently, so I definitely will learn a lot from this. This is my first match, don’t know when there will be
“Ricky was someone who from the beginning backed me. Someone like him backing you and saying good things about you is pretty amazing. He was always there with me to help me work hard; with him, I felt a different person but now I am a different person,” Pandya insisted. “I was very young then and everything was new for me. I feel now I belong here and I need to act like that.
“I believe what Rahul sir told once on the Australia (A) tour, that it’s all about the situation. If your team is 45 for 5, you cannot go out and hit the ball and get out and say I was playing my natural game. That has helped a lot. Now I feel like I play according to the situation. If you see my ODI graph as well, the innings that I have played … take for example Pune (the first ODI against England last month) — the situation required me to play steadily and take it one run at a time and eventually I ended that game. In Cuttack (in the second game), it required me to score runs quickly, so I feel it has helped me a lot that I have to play according to the situation. Everything is all about the situation, about how your team requires your ability,” Pandya added.