Contrary to the reckless demeanour that Hardik Pandya’s unusual haircut and tattoos give away to the public eye, the young prodigy has shown tremendous commitment and maturity in his game so far. Pandya has credited most of it to MS Dhoni, who had given him a stern warning in his very first game.
With his free-flowing strokes, inhuman fielding abilities, and reliable bowling, the man from Gujarat has become a superstar in the Indian dressing room. Since making it to the team back in early 2016 in a T20I against Australia, the 24-year-old made his mark across all three formats of the game and is one of the main players for the Indian team today.
He has scored a century and five fifties in two years and most of all, has matured tremendously with every game. However, Pandya was never this calm and had stepped onto the international circuit like most other youngsters, aggressive and indisciplined. And it was MS Dhoni’s warning in the very first game that changed him for the better.
On the Youtube talk show, Breakfast with Champions, Pandya revealed the incident on his debut at the Adelaide Oval against Australia, where Dhoni had to warn him.
“When I gave away 21 runs in my first over, I thought my career is gone. It was a nightmare... But, Mahi
“I apologized instantly… I might be the first person to get ICC Code of Conduct (reprimand) on his first game,” chuckled Pandya.
When asked who is the player he looks up to, Pandya hardly had to think before naming Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni.
“It’s not because of what they have achieved, but the way they are after achieving them. If a hard-working player who is playing for India is training 20%, a not so hard-working guy will train 19%. It’s not the training that matters the most, but what is in the mind (he points to his head),” Pandya said.
Pandya also came to the spotlight a few weeks back with reports emerging that the all-rounder wanted to enlist himself in IPL’s mega-auction, which had created a lot of fuss. However, Pandya put all those rumours to rest on the talk show when he called the franchise his extended family.
“The heart is there. They have always been my favourite team and the love we get in Mumbai is very different and the owners are really sweet.”
Pandya also revealed that West Indies hitman Kieron Pollard is one of his closest friends in the Mumbai Indians dressing room and they share amazing camaraderie. Recalling an incident from India’s tour of West Indies earlier this year, Pandya narrated how Pollard wanted to intimidate him by a local policeman but failed.
“There was a policeman (Pollard’s friend) in West Indies who attempted to arrest me. I was super calm as I didn’t violate any law until things got dragged more than it should have been and I was actually getting serious … But, I caught their act when I saw the official holding the phone upside and pretending to call the station,” Pandya broke into laughter.