Hardik Pandya: Rejuvenated, version 2.0
A young debutant marks his run-up. It's his first international match and he has been selected following performances for his IPL franchise. He gets ready to bowl and starts by delivering a wide. Fine, it's his debut match. Follows that up with three more wides. By the end of the over his figure reads 1-0-19-0 with five wides.
He improves as the day goes on and ends up with two wickets. In the following match, he scores a quickfire 27 off just 17 balls.
After a breakthrough 2017, he returned full of confidence in 2018. However, he endured a nightmarish 2018 season and ended the year with a back injury. His woes continued in the first two months of 2019 as he got suspended. However, he returned with a bang scoring a quickfire 45 off just 22 balls.
He followed that up with a brilliant IPL and has so far scored 355 runs with an average of 50.71 and a stupendous strike rate of 198.32. He has consistently been contributing a quickfire 20-30 runs in every match.
Through his brilliant innings of 91, he has shown that he is more than just a three-dimensional player. He has shown that he can play long innings as well and that he relishes pressure unlike alot of other players.
Last year we saw his sedate 50 off 42 balls and this year the 91. He has shown multiple dimensions of his game. Post troublesome times both on and off the cricket field, he has ended up a much-improved player.
"I wanted to improve, and I got some time for my body as well and for the game. I think the time for which I was out, it's helping me right now because I'm in good mental space and everything is coming right."
His unorthodox technique which depends much more on the wrists than his arms allows him to effortlessly deposit even good balls over the fence. While he may not be as burly or big as most of the Carribean players, his strong forearms make him able to smack even short balls into the V.
His stance which is towards the off stump and deep in the crease is a reason behind his dominance in the leg side region and especially against Harry Gurney and Piyush Chawla who were bowling around the wicket.
"It has been seven months that I have hardly played games. I've just batted and batted and batted, and touch wood the game is getting improved. These seven months have not been easy. I was out, and then I didn't know what to do,"
He himself has said in an interview that his batting has improved tremendously over the last several months away from the game due to endless practices and net sessions as he couldn't play too many games during this time period.
Are these some of the reasons behind his success? Definitely, these subtle changes have been tremendously succeful for him but so has the hours of net practice every day during his time away from the game?
Was this the same Hardik Pandya who was being brutally trolled by fans all over the world for his poor show in 2018? The talent was always there, but only recently has he brought out his 2.0 game. He will be looking to carry on his rejuvenated 2.0 game into the rest of the IPL and the subsequent World Cup.Published 30 Apr 2019, 22:50 IST