The flamboyant Indian all-rounder, Hardik Pandya recalled the support he received from the former Indian skipper, MS Dhoni, saying he feels lucky and blessed to have played under his leadership. The 28-year-old all-rounder made his T20I and ODI debut in 2016 and the following year he made his Test debut as well. Pandya fine-tuned his form in the recently concluded Indian Premier League (IPL) 2022 and led new entrants Gujarat Titans (GT) to win the trophy as well.
Talking about the same during a recent chat with SGTV podcast, Hardik Pandya said, “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.”
He further added, “So obviously the kind of debut I had I think I am the first cricketer who had gone for 21 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.”
While bowling against Australia in a T20I match in 2016, Hardik Pandya had conceded 21 runs in his first over. Unlike any other captain who would hesitate to give a newcomer another chance, Dhoni trusted Pandya and gave him another opportunity to finish with 2/37 from three overs.
Although Pandya didn’t get a chance to bat during the T20I series against Australia, an impressed Dhoni guaranteed the all-rounder of a place in India’s World Cup squad.
Recalling the same, Hardik Pandya said, “Just after the third game of my international career, Mahi bhai told me you will be 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.”