Hardik Pandya, the India all-rounder, wants to put injuries and controversy behind him as he moves on from his “toughest time” to work towards making sure that India wins the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019.
The fast-bowling all-rounder brings balance to Virat Kohli’s one-day international side. However, he’s missed out on several matches since September – first with a back injury, then when his comments on a talk show resulted in a suspension, and finally with more lower back issues that kept him out of action during the recent home series against Australia.
The Indian Premier League, where he turns out for Mumbai Indians, was a chance for him to get some vital game time before the World Cup in England and Wales, and on Wednesday, 3 April, he showed just how impactful he could be.
Pandya smashed 25* off just eight balls as Mumbai posted a challenging 170/5 against Chennai Super Kings at the Wankhede stadium, before scalping 3/20 in four overs, in his team’s 37-run win. His three sixes included one off a ‘helicopter shot’, with MS Dhoni watching from behind the stumps.
Picking up his Player of the Match award, Pandya opened up on what it meant to him. “It has been seven months that I have hardly played games,” he said. “I was out for an injury and then some other controversy happened.
“This match award, I’d really like to dedicate to my family and my friends, who were there for me during my toughest time. These seven months have not been easy. I was out and then I didn’t know what to do.
“That made me feel that I should have a reality check about what I am doing and which is helping me. Now, my only focus is to play IPL and make sure India wins the CWC. That is my sole purpose. That’s why I am practising the way I am doing right now.”
Basking in the “fantastic feeling” of having contributed to a win, Pandya said he had used his time away from the game to focus on his batting. “I’ve just batted and batted and batted in training, and touch wood, the game is getting improved,” he said.
“I am someone who wants to improve day by day. That is something I was focusing on all that time I was out of the side. It is a fantastic feeling when you hit the ball like that and make your team win.”
Get the latest updates of Cricket World Cup Tickets from our trusted online ticketing platform. Cricket fanatics can book tickets on a reliable rate from our online ticketing market place.