Hardik Pandya has come back ‘wiser’ into the Indian team after being dropped and says his recent performance has given him a sense of belonging at the highest level.
Pandya endured a tough time following the World T20 at home. The fast bowling all-rounder had a forgettable Indian Premier League post the world event, costing him a place in the Indian team for the tour of Zimbabwe.
It was a hard reality check for the 23-year-old, who now fondly recollects those testing times which helped him become a better cricketer.
"After the World T20, I had a reality check. I thought hard about the things I needed to improve on. The A tour to Australia happened and that turned out to be an important for me. I learnt a lot there about my game. Rahul Dravid sir (coach) used to help me a lot, talking to me about my game and the mental side of it. Paras Mhambrey (assistant coach) was also very helpful," said Pandya ahead of the opening T20 International between India and England in Kanpur on Wednesday.
The performance on the ‘A’ tour helped him return to the Indian team. His ODI debut in the New Zealand series was followed by a maiden call-up to the Test team for the England series.
However, a shoulder injury while training during the third Test in Mohali ruled him out for the rest of the series and he could not make his debut.
The next opportunity came in the recently concluded ODI series against England and he staked a claim for a Champions Trophy berth with handy contributions in the first and third ODI.
Pandya would have loved to take the team past the finish line in Kolkata after completing his maiden ODI fifty, but he was out to a slog and India lost the game by five runs.
He went back into the dressing room wiser after giving his wicket away at that crucial juncture.
"As an individual, I feel we should accept our mistakes and learn from it. I feel I should not have played that shot but I felt the asking rate was getting high and someone had to take the chance.
"I felt Kedar (Jadhav) was someone who should have stayed till the end and I backed myself to take the chances. In that process I got out but next time I will choose a wise shot," he said.
A few blips notwithstanding, Pandya gained a lot out the series.
"It gives you lot of confidence when you do well in an important series. It was very important that I started believing that I belong here."
He is now looking forward to bowling alongside veteran Ashish Nehra in the three T2O Internationals and carry his form into the shortest format.
"I don't think anything different will be there (when it comes to bowling alongside different set of bowlers). I have played with him (Nehra) and I am very comfortable with him. Individually, it doesn't make a difference when someone else comes in or goes out.
"We will keep it pretty simple and stick to the basics. We will take the confidence (of the series win Tests and ODIs) into the series," he added.