Jonty Rhodes praises Hardik Pandya as a player with ‘enormous hunger’

Jonty Rhodes also admitted that he was worried over Hardik’s focus level as he seemed to be one who would lose focus easily but he eventually proved him wrong.

Hardik Pandya
Hardik Pandya. (Photo Source: Twitter)

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To those who felt Hardik Pandya had shot in his own foot after that ugly controversy on air, the ace all-rounder from Baroda had a surprise in store. The 25-year-old hadn’t wished things to have gone the way they did since he completed the tour of England last year. First there was a bad injury that saw him getting stretchered off the ground during a clash with Pakistan in the Asia Cup in September.

Thereafter, just when he was about to make a return after missing a historic Test series in Australia, there was the ‘Koffee With Karan’ controversy that saw him getting suspended temporarily. He had some games in New Zealand but missed the home series against Australia because of injury again.

Hardik finally got some chance consistently when he appeared for the Mumbai Indians (MI) in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2019 where he belted the ball at will. Hardik’s big hitting down the order and finishing with a strike rate of 190 above encouraged the Indian team management ahead of the World Cup starting May 30. Hardik’s performance in the IPL actually showed that the TV controversy had added fuel to the fire inside. Hardik was as successful with the ball as he ended up with 14 wickets besides scoring 400-plus runs in 16 matches.

The MI’s former fielding coach Jonty Rhodes has patted Hardik on his back for the show and said it was his “enormous hunger” that saw him delivering in the IPL. The former South African cricketer also told a story about how well Hardik handled the situation when he was dropped in favour of his brother Krunal from the MI side.

“He is a player with enormous hunger. I remember when his brother Krunal burst into the scene, Hardik got dropped. I told him that this was going to be his biggest test. It’s not about bowling a superb bouncer or hitting sixes to finish off games. I told him ‘if you can bounce back after your brother has taken your place in the side, especially since you are seen as the rockstar of Mumbai Indians, then nothing like it’. He handled the phase really well,” Rhodes was quoted as saying by Deccan Herald.

Rhodes was worried over Hardik’s focus level

The 49-year-old also admitted that he was worried over Hardik’s focus level as he seemed to be one who would lose focus easily but he eventually proved him wrong.  “As a fielding coach, I was worried about Hardik’s focus. He came across as someone who would take a selfie with a guy or a girl in the stands. Or someone who is worried about his hat or hair. When the crowd gets going, it’s hard to keep your mind in the game sometimes.”

Rhodes said Hardik could have been ruined by the distractions but he prevailed over all odds. Calling him a “sensible boy from a sensible family”, Rhodes said Hardik has matured as a player and became a good finisher and now has become an all-rounder.