Indian all-rounder Hardik Pandya has revealed that it was Sachin Tendulkar who acknowledged his talent and predicted his inclusion in the Indian squad during his early days in the Indian Premier League. The 23-year old also opened up about the struggles he faced before making it big in cricket.
Hardik Pandya has emerged as India's top all rounder in the recent past and has made a name for himself with his all-around abilities on the field. The 23-year old made his Test debut for India against Sri Lanka in the recently concluded first Test against Sri Lanka in Galle and also scored his maiden half-century, along with claiming his first wicket in the longest format of the game.
Many cricketing pundits have predicted the Gujarat lad to play a pivotal role in India's 2019 World Cup campaign but it was only after they saw him perform in the Indian colours. On the other hand, it was none other than Mumbai Indians mentor and cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar who had predicted Pandya's inclusion in the team six months before his debut for the national side in 2016.
“In Mumbai, after a warm-up session got over I went to him. I was very curious as to what he would say. He took me aside, he told me ‘you are doing really well. I should not be telling you but the way you have been playing, the talent and potential that you have, you will play for India in the next one or one-and-a-half years’. I called up Krunal and told him that Sir has said so and so. For my family, it did not matter whether I played for India or not since it was Sachin Sir who had said this and it gave an assurance that I could do something good for myself,” Hardik revealed on Vikram Sathaye's show 'What The Duck'.
Pandya made his mark in the Indian Premier League in his debut season in 2015 which brought him into the spotlight and led him to the Indian national team in the following year. The memory of meeting his cricketing idol is still fresh in Pandya's mind who narrated his experience of coming face to face with the Master Blaster for the first time.
“I still remember the first time I met Sachin Tendulkar. It was a surprising encounter. It was the first match for Mumbai Indians (MI), I was already star-struck and we were leaving for Kolkata. I was having my food and someone tapped my shoulder from behind and said ‘Hi’. I turned around and literally dropped my plate. I kept it aside; I was astounded. We were not expecting; no one had informed us that he would be coming over. It took about 20-25 minutes for me to gather myself,” he recalled.
However, his success has not come easy for the 23-year old who faced a lot of struggles before making it to the Indian squad, as he went onto reveal, “During U-19 days, my diet would be Maggi. I was a big fan of Maggi and situation was also like that. It was difficult to maintain a diet, financially it was a problem. Now I can eat whatever I want to, but that time there were many issues in the family, we had a lot of financial problems. So because of that, I would have Maggi both times — in the morning and in the evening. I would eat Maggi before the match and after going home in the night."
But, it all changed in just a matter of six months when Pandya made his debut for Mumbai Indians against Royal Challengers Banglore and smashed a six off the very second delivery he faced. “I still remember it was my first innings against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB). I had walked out to bat in a funny situation of sorts. Two overs were left and we were only two wickets down. I was not padded up. They had a bowler named David Wiese and he claimed three wickets in one over. I went in in a hurry and went to Bhajji pa, he said just one think ‘jee le zindagi’ (live your life). I went on to hit two sixes,” he said.
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