Team India all-rounder Hardik Pandya has recently shared how Mumbai Indians (MI) selected him for the Indian Premier League (IPL). He said that the MI scout team spotted him, which included John Wright, during the 2013-14 Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament. He scored an unbeaten 82 in a match in the presence of MI owner Akash Ambani.
He made his debut for MI in the 2015 IPL season, smashing 112 runs which came at a strike rate of 180.64. He made his India debut soon after and now he has been one of the key members of the team as well. In an interview with The Cricket Monthly, he shared how he got his big break in the game.
The all-rounder recalled: “In the 2013-14 Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament, Zak [Zaheer Khan] was playing for Mumbai against Baroda, along with others like Surya [Suryakumar Yadav], PT [Pravin Tambe], Aditya Tare, Dhawal Kulkarni, who were in the eyes of franchises. Kiran sir [More] had spoken to John Wright about us two brothers. John was always there for all the games as he was a scout. Akash [Ambani, Mumbai Indians’ owner] came with Rahul Sanghvi [Mumbai Indians’ manager] and one more MI person.”
Hardik Pandya further added: “There’s a saying in Hindi: Jungle mein mor naacha kisne dekha? [if a peacock dances in a forest, did one anyone see it?] With me, that’s not been the case – whenever I have danced, someone has watched. I scored 82 not out.”
He continued: “Yeah, John played a very, very big part because he actually showed the owners that this guy is there. I don’t get to speak to John a lot but the last time I met him, I thanked him again. I appreciate people who have stood by me and I don’t forget them – at the end of the day if you have helped with Rs 5 or if you have helped with your time, Hardik and Krunal never forget that.”
However, after his stunning debut, Hardik Pandya became an integral part of MI where he has played 92 matches so far, amassing 1476 runs at a strike rate of 153.91 and claiming 42 scalps at a strike rate of 20.69 as well.
“When we came to Baroda, our house would have been about 50 square feet, and four of us lived there. I am not exaggerating. We still have that house – one bedroom-kitchen. The kitchen would be the size of a small washroom. People keep asking us brothers how did we brothers grow tall so fast. We did not have a lot of space, but we had a monkey bar in the house and I used to hang upside down on it, do all sort of things,” Hardik Pandya concluded.