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Best Diwali gift ever: Hardik Pandya's dad

November 02, 2016 18:41 IST

'When Hardik was dropped from the Zimbabwe tour, coach Sanjay Bangar called, telling him to work hard and not lose focus.'
'This really motivated Hardik to do better, and he emerged one of the star performers during India A's tour of Australia.'

IMAGE: Hardik Pandya, who was picked for the first two Tests against England. Photograph: Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images

There were extended Diwali celebrations in the Pandya home in Baroda.

All-rounder Hardik Pandya got a maiden call-up to India's Test squad for the first two matches against England.

Hardik's older brother Krunal had a good debut season with the Mumbai Indians in the 2016 Indian Premier League.

Father Himanshu Pandya was on top of the world after hearing the news as Rediff.com's Aruneel Sadadekar discovered when he spoke to the Pandyas and Hardik's coach Jitendra Singh.

IMAGE: Hardik received his ODI cap from Kapil Dev before the 1st one-dayer against New Zealand on October 16. Photograph: BCCI

Krunal, when did you get the news of Hardik's selection?

I was expecting that Hardik would be selected after looking at how he bowled in the ODI series against New Zealand.

Earlier, he was considered as a batsman who could bowl medium pace, but in the last series he bowled with serious pace.

We are very happy and my father had tears in his eyes.

Himanshu Pandya: It is my dream to see both my sons play Test cricket and now one dream is about to be realised.

We've got one of the best Diwali gifts, the celebrations and sweets continue after the festival as well now.

The first Test will be played in Rajkot. Are you all planning to watch the match?

Himanshu Pandya: Definitely, I want to see Hardik play Test cricket for India.

Yes, there is no guarantee that he will be selected, but I don't want to miss the opportunity of seeing him in his whites.

IMAGE: Hardik and Krunal Pandya.

Both Hardik and Krunal mentioned your role during the initial phase of their careers...

Himanshu Pandya: I have tears in my eyes when I revisit those days.

I don't want to talk about myself because every parent wants to give their best for their kids.

It is Hardik's hard work and dedication that has paid off now.

Krunal: I still remember he was a little dejected after being dropped from the Mumbai Indians team in the last IPL season.

What is praiseworthy is that he bounced back.

Hardik has trained hard in the past six months and the added pace to his bowling got him selected for the Tests.

Jitendra sir, how did you get the news of Hardik's selection?

I was training with the U-19 players at the Moti Bagh stadium (Baroda) when Krunal called to give me the news.

Immediately, Hardik also called to congratulate me.

This is the best phase in Hardik's career and after being selected for five-day cricket, I think he has now become a complete player and is ready for the real test.

Was it expected?

Jitendra Singh: I was training with Hardik just two days ago and saw him in prime fitness.

Hardik was always a good batsman, but the way he bowled in the recent ODI series, it boosted his chances.

Hardik is probably the only all-rounder in India now who can bowl 140-plus and score runs at a brisk pace.

Tell us about your association with Hardik.

Jitendra Singh: I have been coaching him since 2009. He was a leg-spinner at the start.

During one of the Group A matches in Baroda, we were facing relegation and our premier pacer was missing as he was playing the Ranji Trophy.

Hardik came to me and said he can also bowl medium pace.

I saw his bowling and was impressed.

In a few days, he won the game for us by taking five wickets with his medium pace. Senior Ranji coach Sanath Kumar was there to watch the game.

He immediately called Hardik to represent Baroda in T20s and the journey started.

IMAGE: Hardik takes a selfie with Mumbai Indians owners Nita and Anant Ambani, and teammates Rohit Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah.

Hardik couldn't find a place in the Mumbai Indians XI in the last IPL. What changed after that?

Jitendra Singh: I remember he was disappointed after the IPL.

We trained together for 15 days. He exactly knew what he had to do in order to regain his place in the India side.

Hardik needed to gain pace in his bowling and for that fitness was very important.

Later, his stints with the India 'A' team helped him a lot.

Hardik has told me how India 'A' coach Rahul Dravid's influence has worked wonders for him.

Hardik also mentions the superb guidance he receives with the Indian team.

Carry on please...

Jitendra Singh: When we met after the recent ODI series, Hardik mentioned Virat Kohli and Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

How these two always guide him with his batting.

He also praises coach Anil Kumble's work ethic and man-management skills.

When Hardik was dropped from the Zimbabwe tour coach Sanjay Bangar called, telling him to work hard and not lose focus.

This really motivated Hardik to do better and he emerged one of the star performers during India A's tour of Australia.

With his style statements and aggressive batting, Hardik represents the modern T20 cricketer. Do you think he will be successful in Tests?

Jitendra Singh: (Laughs!) Is Virat Kohli not stylish?

I agree Hardik is an aggressive batsman, but that is what the team will need when batting with tailenders.

He will have to score quick runs down the order.

He also has a decent technique, but it is his bowling that sets him apart from the other all-rounders.

Hardik hasn't reached his full potential and he still can increase his pace to the 145 kmph mark.

With his current pace and valuable batting, Hardik becomes the perfect fast bowling all-rounder India needs mainly for overseas conditions.

Aruneel Sadadekar / Rediff.com
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