Indian all-rounder Hardik Pandya has credited former Indian skipper MS Dhoni for teaching him the importance of being selfless for the team which also helped him remain calm at the crease. The 23-year old also stated that he is quite privileged to draw out comparisons with the legendary Kapil Dev.
Hardik Pandya's inclusion in the Test team had raised many eyebrows with cricket experts terming the 23-year old's inclusion premature. However, Pandya proved his mettle as an all-rounder in the team scoring a fifty in his very first innings while scalping a wicket in the first match at Galle.
The Baroda lad followed it up, with a maiden century in the third Test breaking a plethora of records in the process. Pandya revealed that he was not bothered of his personal score while India
"When I bat, I don't think about my personal scores and achievements. It has helped me enough. One thing I learned from Mahi
"First time in my life I have not had the 90s butterfly. Otherwise, I don't remember previous centuries, but I used to have butterflies from what I can remember. In today's game when I batted I was in a different zone," he added.
The legendary Kapil Dev has been attributed to be India's best all-rounder in the history of the game and after Pandya's mesmerizing innings, it was natural that the two Indian players are compared.
"Obviously my focus is to play my cricket and just become what I can become. Even if I can be 10 per cent of what Kapil Dev was, I will be pretty happy in my life," Pandya said at the press conference at the end of second day's play.
The explosive Pandya was at his best when he smashed Malinda Puspakumara for 26 runs in an over becoming the first Indian batsman to do so in a Test.
"It just happened, honestly. I didn't want to go all over but don't know what happened. May be I was connecting pretty well, so I thought 'let me try' and I scored 26 runs. It obviously feels good," he said.
"From there I saw the scoreboard and I was batting on 80 and I was like, wow! Then I noticed I was in the zone, I don't usually look at the scoreboard. I don't want to know what's happening around. I just focus on how I can help the innings progress."
Sri Lanka started the second day on the front foot dismissing Wriddhiman Saha early in the day. However, Pandya stole the game away from the hosts' grasp after he built a brilliant 51-run partnership with Kuldeep Yadav before coming out all guns-blazing to power India to 478 despite 400 runs seeming difficult at one point of time.
"Nine wickets were already down and I knew, if I stay in the crease and connect the ball well, it would go for six. Even if I were to miss
"When me and Wriddhi (Wriddhiman Saha) went in, we played normally. Once he got out, still Kuldeep (Yadav) was there, and I could take singles with him. Even Shami and Umesh can bat, but you also know that when you have one wicket left, you play a different game; when you have three wickets, you play differently. I just batted according to the situation."
Pandya admitted that his luck has favoured him and he is playing Test cricket at a very early age.
"God has been pretty kind to me. I am pretty lucky I got things pretty quickly in life. I am just happy. I have worked hard enough and I am getting whatever I have worked hard for. Test cricket is not easy.
"I am pretty lucky to have such team and such people who are supporting me and backing me all
"Whenever a kid starts playing in India, he doesn't think of one-day cricket. Test cricket is always the goal. I am not sure about now, but when I was little I always wanted to play Test cricket. The name is Test because it is a difficult format; it tests your patience, fitness, temperament, etc."
The 23-year old highlighted the skills required to become a lethal bowler in Test cricket.
"In Test cricket, you need to be disciplined and keep bowling in one place, and eventually the wicket is going to do something. In Ranji Trophy you might get helpful wickets where you get a five-wicket haul in 10 overs as well. But in Test cricket it is different.
"You need to make sure you bowled disciplined lines and play on the patience of the batsmen. One ball might do something, and you get a wicket."
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