Pandya primed to fire at the death

Hardik Pandya. AFP

Hardik Pandya celebrated his expected inclusion in India’s World Cup squad on Monday with a blinder of an innings for Mumbai Indians to push Royal Challengers Bangalore further into the abyss.

Not too long ago, though, Pandya’s career itself was in a deep hole following his suspension, along with K L Rahul, for loose talk about women on a TV chat show. The duo was recalled from the ODI series in Australia and Pandya, in particular, copped plenty of flak.

The controversy and the public humiliation had the potential to affect his game and set his career back, but the Baroda all-rounder has shown great character and resolve to put the bitter episode behind him and do what he does best – belting the leather and providing crucial breakthroughs.

Pandya admitted that the manner in which he is striking the ball and finishing off games – something that will be expected of him for India in World Cup – would do a world of good to his confidence.      

“It’s pretty important to always have the confidence behind you,” he said after his 16-ball-37 not out sealed the win for Mumbai here. “The World Cup is a big stage. It is for the first time I am playing. It is important for me to keep hitting the ball well. I was away from the game for some time, so coming back it was important for me to hit well,” he noted.

Pandya has been producing blistering cameos in the death, helping Mumbai either set up big totals or chase stiff targets. The all-rounder said it’s something that he has been practicing and doing for a few years now.    

“That’s my role in any team I play for. I have been practicing at the nets the same thing. It is about the situation. You play according to the situation and if you are smart enough, you will more often get the result you desire,” he pointed out.

The forced time away from game, Pandya revealed, was a sort of blessing in disguise as it helped him recover fully from his back injury. Pandya, after injuring himself during the Asia Cup in the UAE, missed out on a lot of cricket before returning to action midway through India’s Test series in Australia early this year. While he didn’t get any Test, he was pulled back from the ODI series.    

“It’s okay, everyone has a setback and for me, I got some time for my body as well. The time I was out is helping me right now because I am in a good mind space now and everything is coming right,” he replied.

Pandya did reasonably well during his first sojourn to England for the Champions Trophy in 2017, and he hopes the experience will hold him in good stead during the World Cup in the UK.

“The conditions we have to see because the last time we went, a lot of people told me that it will be swinging, it will be nice and cold but eventually (when we went there)… I have never played on flatter wickets before. It will depend on the situation and the conditions. If it’s the same conditions that we played in the Champions Trophy, it will help us,” he observed.

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Pandya primed to fire at the death

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