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Hardik Pandya's father terms maiden Test call-up as 'one of the best Diwali gifts'

Hardik's coach also backs him to fit into India's all-rounder jigsaw.

Hardik Pandya
Pandya will be eager to translate his limited-overs potential to Tests as well

When India’s Test squad for the upcoming 5-match series against England was announced earlier today, one name caught everyone by surprise. All-rounder Hardik Pandya, who had been primarily seen as a limited-overs specialist, earned his maiden call-up to the sport’s traditional format. The 23-year old’s father and coach were understandably elated on his elevation to whites.

In a candid chat with Rediff, they were joined by Hardik’s brother Krunal who made his First-Class debut for Baroda last month. Needless to say, the festive atmosphere generated by Diwali extended to their household.

Delighted with his son’s selection, Himanshu Pandya enthused, “It is my dream to see both my sons play Test cricket and now one dream is about to be realized. We've got one of the best Diwali gifts, the celebrations and sweets continue after the festival as well now. I don't want to talk about myself because every parent wants to give their best for their kids. It is Hardik's hard work and dedication that has paid off now.”

Meanwhile, Krunal opened up on his younger brother’s tenacious attitude after being dropped from Mumbai Indians’ playing eleven during this year’s IPL season. Refusing to throw in the towel, Hardik worked on improving his pace in order to become more penetrative with the ball. Also a part of the same franchise, the left-arm spinner would have witnessed the transformation firsthand.

Krunal revealed, “I still remember he was a little dejected after being dropped from the Mumbai Indians team in the last IPL season. What is praiseworthy is that he bounced back. Hardik has trained hard in the past six months and the added pace to his bowling got him selected for the Tests. I was expecting that Hardik would be selected after looking at how he bowled in the ODI series against New Zealand. Earlier, he was considered as a batsman who could bowl medium pace but in the last series he bowled with serious pace.”

‘Hardik is ready for the real Test’

Hardik’s first tryst at the international level came during the 3-match T20I series in Australia during January. After showing glimpses of his ability, he began to make an impact in the shortest format with an 18-ball 31 and 3/8 against Bangladesh and Pakistan respectively propelling India to comfortable victories in the Asia Cup. During a critical World T20 group game, the right-armer defended 11 runs in the final over to eke out a narrow 1-run victory for MS Dhoni’s team.

He made his ODI debut against New Zealand at Dharamsala in the recently completed series and promptly took away the Player of the Match award for his game-changing spell with the new ball. With India’s Test team seeking a viable seam bowling all-rounder for quite some time, Pandya’s emergence has raised expectations.

His coach, Jitendra Singh quipped, “I was training with Hardik just two days ago and saw him in prime fitness. Hardik was always a good batsman but the way he bowled in the recent ODI series, it boosted his chances. He is probably the only all-rounder in India now who can bowl 140-plus and score runs at a brisk pace. This is the best phase in his career and after being selected for five-day cricket, I think he has now become a complete player and is ready for the real test.“

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