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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 21 May 2024

Hardik Pandya faces bouncers with smile

The 28-year-old, however, chooses to answer his critics with his captaincy and individual performance

A Staff Reporter Calcutta Published 26.05.22, 01:37 AM
Hardik Pandya

Hardik Pandya File Photo

The name Hardik Pandya “always sells” for his on-field performances or controversies, but the man himself takes it all with a “smiling face”.

Hardik’s journey hasn’t been smooth at all ever since his India debut in 2016, following his success with the Mumbai Indians the previous year — his debut in the IPL. A bout of injuries and being pulled up by the BCCI three years ago for his controversial comments on a chat show didn’t help his progress as well.

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But having recovered from injury and regained his fitness, Hardik has led the Gujarat Titans to the final of IPL 2022 in their debut season. He may not have blazed his way with the bat this IPL, but with 453 runs, he is the Titans highest run-getter so far.

With the ball, he has to show only 26.3 overs in 14 matches, taking five wickets at an economy rate of 7.73. That isn’t too high either.

The 28-year-old, however, chooses to answer his critics with his captaincy and individual performance. Yet, if people don’t stop talking about him, he just “can’t help” it.

“People always talk. That’s their job. I can’t help,” Hardik said at the post-match news conference after the Titans’ seven-wicket win over Rajasthan Royals in Tuesday’s Qualifier I at Eden Gardens. “The name ‘Hardik Pandya’ always sells. I’ve no problem with it. I just take it easy with a smiling face.”

His calm and cool demenour on the field has also been a feature of his captaincy. It’s better to take a few seconds extra before rushing towards a decision, Hardik believes.

“Before the captaincy as well, I always made sure I approached all the situations in a cool-headed manner. Generally, you make better decisions that way,” he said. “For me in my life and in my cricketing journey, it was important to give that 10-second extra rather than rushing in.”

Iterating the influence of former India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni in his life, Hardik added: “Mahibhai has played a big role in my life. He’s a dear brother, a dear friend and family to me. I’ve learnt a lot of good things from him.”

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