Home » Cricket Home » News » From Street Smart Cricketer to Dotting Dad, Hardik Pandya's Evolution Is Quite A Story
4-MIN READ

From Street Smart Cricketer to Dotting Dad, Hardik Pandya's Evolution Is Quite A Story

By: Vimal Kumar

Cricketnext

Last Updated: August 03, 2022, 07:50 IST

Basseterre (St Kitts)

Flamboyant India all-rounder Hardik Pandya (AP Image)

Flamboyant India all-rounder Hardik Pandya (AP Image)

Perhaps Pandya knows that over the next few years when the likes of Virat Kohli or Rohit Sharma say goodbye to international cricket, it will be the Baroda all-rounder who is going to play a very critical role. Who knows, he could be a possible future leader.

With Hardik Pandya now back as a regular feature in the Indian playing XI, the balance and composition of the team get an added dimension. Not only does it reduce the anxiety of the captain, it also allows the team to have greater flexibility in approaching any game, especially in T20Is. The Baroda all-rounder knows this well and his demeanor on the recent tours of England and West Indies proves how he has evolved from a seemingly mercurial player to a mature man.

CWG 2022 – FULL COVERAGE | IN-DEPTH | INDIA FOCUS | OFF THE FIELD | IN PHOTOS | MEDAL TALLY

The writer met the Baroda all-rounder for the first time in three years as India toured England last month. And he greeted me by asking about my family members! Even though he has become a superstar after leading Gujarat Titans to an IPL, he still showed me a glimpse of that innocent Pandya I met for the first time in 2015. Down to earth and ever curious, no matter his public image.

In fact, Pandya is even more focussed on his cricket and, of course, his family. Nothing distracts him. Win or lose.

After Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, it is Pandya who is catching the imagination of the fans and former players alike. So much so that former West Indies great and current chairman of selectors, Desmond Haynes waited for nearly 15 minutes to get a glimpse of him the other day during one of India’s practice sessions at Queens Park Oval, Trinidad.

Also Read: England To Visit Pakistan After 17 Years To Play Seven T20Is

The West Indian great told this writer that he finds something special and very Caribbean in Pandya’s personality. When I informed the ex-cricketer about Pandya’s fondness for Calypso cricket, he couldn’t help but smile.

Meanwhile Pandya was just getting downstairs from the dressing room when Haynes tried to say hello before the West Indian media manager politely told him that he should rather wait. Instead, he would arrange a meeting via the BCCI media manager so that they can chat in relaxed way. Haynes quickly agreed.

Nonetheless, Pandya got busy batting in the nets, but Haynes spoke to India captain Rohit Sharma, inquiring about Pandya just like any other fan!

It is not usual to see dozens of Indians (unlike the hundreds of them in England) following Indian team with the same vigour in Caribbean, but he has some local fan following here. So much so that when Pandya was hitting those monstrous sixes during India’s first practice session, they were cheering boisterously for him.  Once he was done, the Gujarat Titans captain got many requests for autographs and selfies with the net bowlers which he quickly obliged before sharing his insights with the youngsters.

One thing is for sure, the 29-year-old is evolving as a cricketer and so is his stature among the fans. If he can speak in typical Caribbean accent with the locals, then he can also switch to formal English with the umpires, if needed.

When asked about the use of Hindi in his daily conversations, he confessed that he hardly uses it as his little son doesn’t understand or speak the language. The challenges of raising his son in this constant bio-secure bubble has been one of the hardest things for Pandya and his wife.

During his various interactions with this writer, one thing remains the same. Pandya remains aloof about his future. He is neither thinking about India’s World Cup campaign in Australia later this year or his prospects of playing Test cricket again.

One can sense that Pandya has realised that he is no longer the young kid on the block like the Mohammed Sirajs and Rishabh Pants these days.

Perhaps Pandya knows that over the next few years when the likes of Virat Kohli or Rohit Sharma say goodbye to international cricket, it will be the Baroda all-rounder who is going to play a very critical role. Who knows, he could be a possible future leader.

Despite his natural ability to play fearless shots, Pandya of late has been spending a lot of time with batting coach Vikram Rathore. But it is his chemistry with head coach Rahul Dravid which keeps him going. Both share a very warm rapport with each other and the two can often be seen around cracking jokes.

Both have known each other for a very long time.

In the past, he has often credited Dravid for playing a critical role in his career. Back in 2015, on a tour of Australia with India ‘A’ team, it was at Dravid’s insistence that he made his debut as Tamil Nadu batter Vijay Shankar got injured.

If the reunion of Dravid and Pandya can work wonders again then who knows the elusive T20 World Cup title may not be a tough ask for captain Rohit Sharma.

Get all the latest Cricket News, Schedule and Cricket Live Scores here

first published:August 03, 2022, 07:00 IST
last updated:August 03, 2022, 07:50 IST