Hardik Pandya emphasized the need to exert 100 percent when playing, in a rousing statement following his man of the match performance in the first T20I against England. The all-rounder went on to talk about the record he set in the match and how his role in the IPL has enhanced his game.
Hardik Pandya put on a show at the Rose Bowl Stadium on Thursday to earn India a comfortable victory against England in the first T20I.
The 28-year-old hadn't played any T20Is since the World Cup in 2021 until the series against South Africa last month. Even when part of the Men in Blue team, Hardik was bowling only sparsely while recovering from a back injury. He put down his break from bowling to being unable to deliver his best. Hardik said that he took a break from bowling to get back his rhythm. The all-rounder also opined that there is no point playing if a player doesn’t play to his full potential.
“I want success but a lot of time I spend on fitness and my skillsets. For me a lot of time goes into the preparation to get my body ready. Because of the long break that I had, I wanted to get into rhythm. (Bowling quickly) That was a conscious decision when I decided I want some time off from the game. It is about giving your 100% and when you don’t do that, there is no point playing. So I needed that break and now I am happy to be in this place right now," Hardik said in the post-match presentation.
Batting first, the Men in Blue were led by the allrounder's swashbuckling 51 off just 33 deliveries to set a target of 199. Pandya then proceeded to dismantle the hosts' top order enroute a 50-run triumph. He eliminated three of their top four batsmen to end up with figures of 4/33. In doing so, he became the first ever Indian to score a half-century and record a four-wicket haul in the same T20I. Hardik admitted to being aware of the record already. He expressed his joy over the achievement and stated that he is enjoying his game currently.
“The last time I played a T20 in England, I think I took 4 wickets and scored some 30. So I kind of knew I was the first Indian to score fifty and take 4 wickets. I am enjoying my cricket right now," Hardik stated,
Hardik truly returned to form in the recently concluded IPL. Made captain of debutant franchise Gujarat Titans, the all-rounder led his side to the title in an emphatic season. His accolades earned him the captaincy for a two-game series in Ireland, where the visitors came out 2-0 victors. He cherished the added responsibility and it had a positive impact on his game.
“I’m happy. I’ve always been a kind of individual who has liked responsibility and enhance my game. Captaincy adds some responsibility but for me, I have always been a responsible player,” he explained.