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I want to be the Jacques Kallis of India, says Hardik Pandya

By: Vimal Kumar

IBN7

Last Updated: February 17, 2016, 11:05 IST

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Photo Credit: Getty Images

"I want to be that guy who, whenever the team needs, is there - in batting, bowling, and fielding...I want to be the Jacques Kallis of India," said the man with an X-factor.

Ashish Nehra calls him the “West Indian from Baroda" - such is the X-factor associated with India’s latest hope of a seam-up allrounder, Hardik Pandya.

After his exploits against Australia in Australia and Sri Lanka at home, IBN7 caught up with the man who has even won the admiration of skipper MS Dhoni right at the outset of his international career.

Excerpts:

What has been the turning point for you?

Pandya: Definitely IPL. IPL will be the biggest turning point of my life actually. Because no one knew one year back who was Hardik Pandya but now at least people know that Hardik Pandya is a proper allrounder, plays for Mumbai Indians and now he plays for India as well. So it only makes sense that people know me now. The last one year has been like a roller-coaster ride for me. In one year, my life has changed.

Mumbai Indians, on and off the field, has played an important role in your life as well.

Pandya: Definitely, they have been an important part after the IPL and even during the IPL, because they have always been supporting me throughout. I have been going to their houses for parties and pujas and all, and they have always been supporting and cheering for me. They will say ‘you are doing good, keep doing good; we are having an eye on you. You just keep doing what you do and we are there for you.’ So they have been quite important.

It’s cricket that has been such a great leveller for you. Somebody like you coming from a middle-class family and now you are being so welcomed by the Mumbai Indians family.

Pandya: Actually it’s quite amazing. One year back I guess even the Ambanis didn’t know who was Hardik Pandya. Even they didn’t know what Hardik Pandya does or how he is. But after one year, they at least know me. Even when I got selected, Mukesh sir called me and said that I’m very happy that you got selected and we are there for you whenever you want. And even Akash [Mukesh Ambani’s son] called me up and when I met Nita madaam she was also quite happy. So it’s quite amazing because the Ambanis are the biggest family actually in the world right now and to be that close to them, it’s quite amazing.

There is an emotional background story that you went through hardships - like there was a time when you used to go to villages of Gujarat and used to play in the matches for just 400 rupees and your family had to suffer a lot. So did you ever believe at that point in time that cricket can change your life?

Pandya: I always had this thing in my mind that only cricket can give what I want in life, because cricket is a religion in India. So only cricket can bring the few things I want. I’m not against studies but I knew from the start that I’m not good in studies; and I knew that if I have to make a good life, studies won’t be the way. So during that time [of hardships], when my father had a few heart attacks and when the financial problem came, I was just sitting in the ground and thinking what to do in life because I was just 17 years old.

But I had the mind of a 20-year-old at that time, because life was teaching me a few things. At an early age only, I got the responsibility to run the house. So I was just thinking what to do. I was watching a game and I just decided that this thing, cricket, can change my life; and cricket only can make things better right now. That’s why all my focus went to cricket.

For a couple of years, I and my coach, Jitendra Singh, worked like anything and you know we were working day and night. We used to go at 7 am and come back by evening. That kind of hard work it has took and that’s why I always praise my coach and obviously Kiran More sir. He has always been a great supporter. He has always been there and has helped me whenever I needed. So these two guys are like the most important.

Tell us something about the 39-run over in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy recently.

Pandya: Actually I got to know that it was a world record. I did not plan it because someone asked me a few days back only ‘is it the best over you have ever played?’ I said obviously you can’t hit 39 off an over every day. The thing was we were only 93 for 6 until the 18th over and only two overs were left, and the wicket was not too bad. So for the team I decided to at least get 130. Even that was not practically possible because the Delhi bowlers were bowling quite well. I just decided let’s target..let’s go all out in the 12 balls left. I just started…first ball went for a six, second ball went for six, third ball was a no-ball, then again six and again four and then again six. So after the over I didn’t know how many runs I have hit. When I went out, I asked the scorer that how many runs I scored in that over and he said 39. And I was like, this is big actually! I only heard about 36 but never heard about 39.

You idolise Jacques Kallis, you want to be like him. Tell us about that.

Pandya: Because what he has done for South Africa is quite commendable and you know when he has bowled he was the proper fast bowler and when he has batted he was a proper batsman and when he was doing fielding he was a brilliant fielder. So that’s why I idolise him because I want to be the Jacques Kallis of India. Because I want to be that guy who, whenever the team needs, is there…in batting, bowling, and fielding. So, that kind of player I want to be for India.

first published:February 17, 2016, 09:24 IST
last updated:February 17, 2016, 11:05 IST
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