Hardik Pandya credits Tendulkar and Ponting for helping him become a batting all-rounder
Promising Indian cricketer Hardik Pandya said that he considered himself more as a batting all-rounder and revealed how words of advice from cricket legends Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting, his mentors at IPL franchise Mumbai Indians, has helped him in improving his skills with the bat, ESPN Cricinfo reports.
“I used to hear that after an IPL season a youngster can grow. That happened to me,” says Pandya and it would be hard to disagree with that assessment. He shot to fame with his performances during IPL season 8 before cementing his status as one to watch with his outstanding success during the Syed Musthaq Ali T20 tournament with both bat and ball, which also included a record-breaking 39-run over.
The 22-year-old subsequently earned his first call-up to the Indian national team in the recently concluded T20 series against Australia and did his reputation no harm with his energetic displays on the field and looks set to be a strong contender to be the elusive all-rounder that India so desperately needs in the long run.
Speaking after his first series for India, Pandya reiterated that he is confident that he can fill the No 7 spot for the national team in the shorter formats but added that he is working on improving his bowling as well.
“I don't feel shy to say that, but I have been selected as a proper allrounder, so my aim is to fit that role. I can still improve my bowling. I have to work on my yorkers and slower balls. I need to get stronger, which will help me bowl quick,” said Pandya.
Ponting and Tendulkar’s words of advice to Pandya
The Baroda all-rounder revealed that he has been helped immensely by guidance from the likes of Tendulkar and Ponting, whom he got to interact with during his stint in the IPL.
“We did specific drills,” says Pandya. “He (Ponting) explained the pull shot, upper cut, square cut, the hook. Take the example of the pull, (he said). He asked me to pull the ball, after which he told me I was bending my leg too much and that in that position I could not pull properly. He told me my leg should be straight.”
Pandya also talked about how he has been integrating words of advice from Tendulkar into his batting and also revealed that he had managed to surpass a prediction made by the batting maestro.
"The way you are playing, in one and a half years you are going to play for India. That capability you have,” Pandya revealed Tendulkar as saying. “I was like, whoa! That time I did not know I was going to play for India in seven to eight months. But when Sachin Tendulkar tells you that, I cannot describe what it felt like.”
Pandya continued: He (Tendulkar) told me, "You can play shots, so you can take time." Right now I am doing the same thing. I am not hitting sixes from the first ball. I am taking a good 15 balls before going for the big sixes. He used to tell me during the IPL that I can take time and cover up later.
“I did not understand what he meant then. Since I was batting at No. 7 the team would need something quick-fire, so I used to hit from the first ball. Now for Baroda, I am batting at No. 3, so I am getting a good amount of balls and time.”
I used to borrow bats till two years ago: Pandya
His career might be on the up nowadays, but Pandya revealed that till one or two years back, he didn’t even have the money to buy himself a proper bat.
“I used to borrow bats till two years ago. I did not have the money,” Pandya said. “I did not have a bat to play in the Vijay Hazare Trophy before last year. I called Irfan bhai [Irfan Pathan] and he gave me two bats. Then last year I got a bat sponsor.
“Till then I was playing with whatever I had. You won't believe but I used to make my bats last for at least two years, strapping them several times.”
Pandya also spoke about how he used to play in tournaments for a meagre sum of just Rs 400.
“There was no name for the tournament. It was just between villages. I would play for teams like Jhambuja XI. What was the fascination? Rs 400. My brother used to get Rs 500. For a week, at least, life would be normal,” he said.