International career started with Dhoni, but not the actual career: Hardik Pandya

International career started with Dhoni, but not the actual career: Hardik Pandya

Hardik has been away from action since the game against Pakistan in the Asia Cup and is set to return to the squad for the third Test in Australia.

MS Dhoni and Hardik Pandya
India’s Hardik Pandya with Mahendra Singh Dhoni. (Photo by PUNIT PARANJPE/AFP/Getty Images)

Not a lot of people knew of Hardik Pandya before a life-changing IPL stint in 2015. He had played some domestic cricket for Baroda before that but nothing substantial. Hence his auction price was his base price 10 lakhs at which Mumbai Indians signed him. There was something Ricky Ponting saw in the 22-year-old seam bowling all-rounder.

Three years down the line, Hardik plays all the three formats of the game for India and has all the eyes on him each time he is on the field. He would make for one of the most lucrative if not the most expensive picks if he goes back into the IPL auction. Mumbai had retained him last season as one of the three players along with skipper Rohit Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah.

Mumbai is the first home

After the IPL 2019 auction, the all-rounder has said that Mumbai is his first home now since he also lives in the city. “First of all, Mumbai Indians has become my first home as I live in Mumbai now,” Hardik Pandya was quoted as saying by TimesNow in an exclusive interview.

In a career where he has got a lot of backing from domestic to international level – he has had seniors like Irfan Pathan back him in Baroda, MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli trust on his abilities at the highest level but in Pandya’s eyes it is Ricky Ponting who matters the most.

Career started with Ricky

“Ricky is someone who has been fantastic. Even the way he backed me. Yes, my international career started with MS. But the actual career which I think that people started noticing me was because of Ricky. He backed me, he saw something in me. You need opportunities, someone who backs you. You need the support which Ricky gave. It made me play freely. I was a different cricketer altogether,” Pandya said.

Ponting could sense that this kid was special and thus paid specific attention to hone his skills while he was raw and young. Hardik even mentioned that to him it was like being treated as a younger brother or son.

“I learnt so much. There were things I didn’t understand which he explained to me. More than anything else, such a legend talking to you so normally and treating you like his little brother and a son,” the 25-year-old said.

Even today they have a very good relationship. “I am still very close with him. He explained to me how things happened at the big circuit and how I needed to play in different situations,” Hardik added.

He has been out of action for the last few months as he suffered a drastic injury against Pakistan during an Asia Cup game. Very recently the national selectors added him to the Test squad for the last two games in Australia.

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