Former Indian pace bowler Ashish Nehra has opened up on Hardik Pandya’s development as a player, who has become more calm and composed. Nehra believes that Pandya’s son’s arrival has played a key role in his evolution as a person and player as well. Pandya, 28, has made headlines with his performances in the Indian white-ball team over the last few months.
He also showcased his skill in the recent Asia Cup showdown against Pakistan on August 28. He smashed a six off Mohammad Nawaz in the final over to seal the deal by the five-wicket win. Nehra feels the all-rounder has grown in all aspects and believes that his personal life has helped him a lot.
Ashish Nehra said the following in a video uploaded by ICC: “Yes, even I’ve observed it. And it is necessary. With time and experience, you learn things both as a human being and as a player. Pandya is no different. You might have seen him talking about it. He has said that he has learned different things from different experiences. Now he is married, father of a kid, and matured. With Agastya’s arrival, he has become more calm and is more focused on his work.”
He recalled playing with Hardik Pandya before his retirement and shared how skilful and hard-working he was. Nehra also shared that the Baroda-born cricketer has time to grow even further.
“That is great for him and Indian cricket. I played with him in 2016 before I retired. I’ve played with him for 1-2 years in T20s just before my retirement and when his career was just beginning. He has always been hard-working and skilful. He is only 28, he has a lot of time. Now that he has things under his control, he will keep showing us this kind of form, this calmness,” Nehra again stated.
He continued: “Most importantly, people talk. When one does well, people praise. But some time back, when he was injured and not doing well, people were criticizing his lifestyle. I personally feel no one should talk about what players do off the field. How you prepare yourself and how hard you work on the field, that is more important. People say that Pandya is not a good student. But he should be a good student on the ground, off the field stuff does not matter. You get better with experience. As life progresses, you learn things. And he has been doing that. When I was with him in the IPL, he was diligent in his work, whether it be with the physio or the trainer and that is more important for any player.”
However, Hardik Pandya struggled with frequent back issues and struggled to fulfil the role for India as a white-ball all-rounder. But, in recent weeks, he has emerged as a different player, starting with the England tour as well. Nehra, who has worked with Pandya for the Gujarat Titans, believes that Pandya can fit into any T20 team as purely a batter.
He added: “The kind of player he is, I mean he only played for the Gujarat Titans in this one year. He has been injured for a while earlier but when you talk about talent, you know what a valuable player he is not just in T20s but other formats too. I believe he is that kind of a player, who even if he doesn’t bowl, can fit in any team as a batter. He was struggling with injuries and poor form, but in the last 3-5 months, he has put in a lot of effort and worked on his fitness.”
“Every player requires some time and even he needed a bit of a time to get back, but he has lived up to the expectations of the captain, coaches, and fans. This is not the first or last time. When you talk about Pandya as an all-rounder, especially when it comes to white-ball cricket, he is a very important player for India or any other T20 team,” Ashish Nehra concluded.