Hardik revealed that he was spotted by the MI scout team, which included John Wright, during the 2013-14 Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament. Hardik scored 82 not out in a match in the presence of MI owner Akash Ambani.
The 28-year-old all-rounder made his debut for MI in the 2015 IPL season, smashing 112 runs at a strike rate of 180.64. He made his India debut soon after and the rest is history.
In an interview with The Cricket Monthly, Hardik reflected on how he got his big break in the game. The Baroda all-rounder recalled:
“In the 2013-14 Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament, Zak [Zaheer Khan] was playing for Mumbai against Baroda, along with others like Surya [Suryakumar Yadav], PT [Pravin Tambe], Aditya Tare, Dhawal Kulkarni, who were in the eyes of franchises. Kiran sir [More] had spoken to John Wright about us two brothers. John was always there for all the games as he was a scout. Akash [Ambani, Mumbai Indians' owner] came with Rahul Sanghvi [Mumbai Indians' manager] and one more MI person.”
Hardik admitted that he had some luck factor going his way as he performed on the day that mattered. He elaborated:
“There's a saying in Hindi: Jungle mein mor naacha kisne dekha? [if a peacock dances in a forest, did one anyone see it?] With me, that's not been the case - whenever I have danced, someone has watched. I scored 82 not out.”
The hard-hitting batter, who is a part of Team India’s T20 World Cup campaign, admitted that former India coach Wright played a big role in him being chosen for MI. Speaking about the New Zealander, Hardik said:
“Yeah, John played a very, very big part because he actually showed the owners that this guy is there. I don't get to speak to John a lot but the last time I met him, I thanked him again. I appreciate people who have stood by me and I don't forget them - at the end of the day if you have helped with Rs 5 or if you have helped with your time, Hardik and Krunal never forget that.”
Following his impressive debut, Hardik went on to become an integral part of MI. He has played 92 matches for the franchise and has scored 1476 runs at a strike rate of 153.91. On the bowling front, he has claimed 42 scalps at a strike rate of 20.69.
“Our house would have been about 50 square feet” - Hardik Pandya on humble days
While Hardik lives a lavish lifestyle these days, it is a known fact that he had very humble beginnings. Asked to share some insights on his life growing up in Baroda, he recalled:
“When we came to Baroda, our house would have been about 50 square feet, and four of us lived there. I am not exaggerating. We still have that house - one bedroom-kitchen. The kitchen would be the size of a small washroom. People keep asking us brothers how did we brothers grow tall so fast. We did not have a lot of space, but we had a monkey bar in the house and I used to hang upside down on it, do all sort of things.”
Hardik was quick to add how his life has changed. He pointed out:
“Now we have a home theatre. I have a gym inside my house, because I am very private and don't step out much anymore. I have created a shoot room. Natasa [Stankovic, Hardik's wife] loves to dance, so we have a dancing space.”
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Having made his international debut in 2016, Hardik has gone on to play 11 Tests, 63 ODIs and 49 T20Is for India.