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Hardik's heart stuns cricket world

By Rediff Cricket
December 09, 2020 17:22 IST
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IMAGE: Hardik Pandya with Thangarasu Natarajan after the third T20 International against Australia in Sydney, December 8, 2020. Photograph: Kind courtesy, Hardik Pandya/Instagram
 

Remember Hardik Pandya on Karan Johar's couch in that infamous programme last year?

Brash. Boastful. Unlikeable.

Meet the new look Hardik Pandya, someone we first encountered when the all-rounder unveiled his relationship with Serbian beauty Nataša Stanković this May.

Sensitive. Romantic. Tender.

Further glimpses of a changed Hardik was available after Natasa and his first child Agastya was born on July 30.

Separated from spouse and son by the IPL, Hardik's posts for Natasa and Agastya during the tournament were mushy and so unlike the guy who boasted about his conquests on Johar's couch.

After playing a superstar role in Mumbai Indians's IPL 2020 campaign, he produced a superawwww moment when dedicated the championship title to his three month old.

And after India won the T20 series against Australia on Tuesday, Hardik confirmed what an altered personality he is.

He said he was rushing home to India because he had been separated from his child and wife since early August by the cricketing needs of first his IPL franchise and then his country.

'I should head back home and spend some quality time with my family. I haven't seen my child for four months,' he declared, nixing chances that he would stay back for the Test series where his services could be requested despite not being picked for that segment of the tour.

Then he stunned the cricketing world with his special gesture towards Thangarasu Natarajan after winning the Player of the Series trophy in the T20I series against Australia in Sydney on Tuesday.

Hardik handed his trophy to Natarajan who impressed team-mates and pundits with his bowling in his first-ever series for India.

'Natarajan, you were outstanding this series. To perform brilliantly in difficult conditions on your India debut speaks volumes of your talent and hardwork. You deserve Man of the Series from my side bhai! Congratulations to #TeamIndia on the win,' Hardik declared on Instagram.

Hardik had credited India's victory in the second T20I to Natarajan's wonderful bowling despite his hitting a match-winning 42 not out from 20 balls in a thrilling run chase.

'In the presentation ceremony I had said that I thought he would be Man of the Match, but they say it has become a batsman's game. When the run rate was higher, he applied the brakes on the Aussie innings. The 10-15 runs less he gave was the difference,' Hardik noted.

'The way the Aussies started and where they ended -- the first thing I said to everyone when we went to the dressing room was that they are 10-15 runs short and if we play normal cricket, we will win and in the end, the runs (which Natarajan saved) mattered,' Hardik said after the game.

Virender Sehwag applauded Hardik for handing his trophy to Natarajan.

'What a beautiful gesture,' Viru said about Hardik's generosity, which is extremely rare in today's game.

Hardik Pandya is not only one of cricket's most exciting talents -- someone who can change the outcome of a game in a heartbeat -- he is also one of the modern game's endearing characters.

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