Team India's star all-rounder, Hardik Pandya, mesmerised viewers with his brilliant performance in the recently concluded Indian Premier League. He led his franchise Gujarat Titans to the title in their maiden season and performed with both bat and ball.
The right-hander has now said that he wants to keep up the momentum he generated during the IPL in the ongoing five-match T20I series against South Africa.
In a video shared by BCCI on their official website, Pandya said that he wants to make an impact in the white-ball series against the Proteas as he gears up for the T20 World Cup 2022.
He mentioned that he wants to get into a good rhythm as the Indian team is expected to play a lot of cricket in the coming months.
The 28-year-old pointed out that he captained the Gujarat Titans (GT) in IPL 2022 and also batted in the top order for the franchise. However, he highlighted that his role for the Indian team will be different as he has been entrusted to do the finisher's job for the national team. Hardik Pandya said:
"Every series and every game you play is as important as your last. Obviously, the T20 World Cup is the goal for me, but this is the right platform for you to get into the rhythm. You know that a lot of cricket is going to come back-to-back. So for you to always be in the rhythm is very important."
"For me, this series is a good opportunity to express myself. My roles will change here. I won't be the captain and I won't be batting higher up the order. This will be back to what I've been known for."
Pandya further added that he is delighted to be back in the national team after his injury-enforced hiatus. He stated that he has put in a lot of hard work and wants to make the most of this opportunity.
"Playing for the country has always been special, especially after a long break. I am coming back fresh and am very excited to be back. It gives me the opportunity to show exactly what I've worked hard for. Doing well for the country is more important, and it gives me immense pleasure. Just looking for positive and exciting days ahead."
The swashbuckler was impressive with the bat in the T20I series opener against South Africa. He hit an unbeaten knock of 31 off just 12 deliveries. Pandya bowled a solitary over in the encounter and conceded 18 runs from the same.
"A lot of sacrifices were made" - Hardik Pandya on how he made a cricketing comeback
The talismanic all-rounder revealed that he would train twice a day when he was on the sidelines. He also disclosed that he had worked very hard prior to this year's cash-rich league.
The Gujarat-based side defeated the Rajastan Royals (RR) in the IPL 2022 final to win the coveted championship trophy. Pandya mentioned that he was extremely satisfied with the results, saying:
"No one knows exactly what I went through in the six months that I was off. I have gotten up at 5 in the morning to make sure that I train and then make sure that I train for the second time at 4 PM. So, to give myself enough rest, I've slept at 9:30 in the night during those months. A lot of sacrifices were made, but for me it was the battle that I fought before I played the IPL."
"After seeing the result, it was more satisfying for me as a cricketer. I've worked hard honestly and it has always given me results. And that's the reason that I don't get very excited when I do something special. Because it's not particularly about that day of the moment and it's rather about the journey."
Hardik Panyda will next be seen in action tomorrow. India and South Africa will lock horns in the 2nd T20I of their series on Sunday, June 11. The match will be played at the Barabati Stadium in Cuttack.