Just after my third international game, Mahi bhai told me you will be in the World Cup team: Hardik Pandya

Under Dhoni's captaincy, Hardik made his debut in 2016 and played in the T20 World Cup few months later.

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

Hardik Pandya has revealed the words from legendary MS Dhoni that grew his confidence during his early days in international cricket. Dhoni has been known for grooming youngsters into world-class players and there are no better examples than Virat Kohli or Rohit Sharma, who have been sensational in the last decade for India.

Under Dhoni’s captaincy, Hardik made his debut in 2016. The all-rounder captained Gujarat Titans to their maiden IPL 2022 title in his very first stint as a captain and it was one of his best seasons with the bat as well. He has recovered from his back injury and has been recalled to the Indian side for the upcoming five-match T20 internationals against South Africa.

Pandya mentioned the number of established stars India had when he first came into the setup and recalled his debut where he went for 19 runs in his first over. He said that he felt Dhoni would not turn to him for another over, but instead he was backed by the skipper as he finished with 2 for 37 in his three overs.

I was very blessed and lucky to play under Mahi Bhai: Hardik Pandya

“When I joined the Indian team, I saw guys whom I had seen growing up – Suresh Raina, Harbhajan Singh, Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli, Ashish Nehra. Even before I played for India, they were the stars. For me, when I went there it was a big thing. So obviously the kind of debut I had – I think I am the first cricketer who had gone for 21 runs (19 runs) in his first over – I genuinely felt that ok, this might be my last over. But I was very blessed and lucky to play under Mahi bhai who showed lot of trust in us which has helped us reach where we did,” Hardik told SGTV podcast.

Hardik went on to mention how his confidence went up the ladder after MS Dhoni‘s honest words and explained what he felt after getting an assurance from Dhoni that he will be in the World Cup team.

“Just after the third game of my international career, Mahi bhai told me you will be in the World Cup team. So for me, to play World Cup or to get to know that in the third game I just got to know about this. I did not even bat in that game but he assured me that you have expressed yourself. Yeah, it was just a dream come true,” he added.

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