Hardik Pandya © Getty Images
Hardik Pandya © Getty Images

Born October 11, 1993, Hardik Himanshu Pandya is an Indian all-rounder, who is famous for bowling the final over against Bangladesh in ICC World T20 2016. He is among the rare seam bowling all-rounders in current Indian circuit. Hardik is Known for his aggression and confident nature, be it in his batting or bowling. He is considered to be India’s future all-rounder in limited-overs cricket and has made his name quite early in his career. He represents Baroda in domestic cricket and was coached under former Indian wicketkeeper Kiran More during his teenage days. On his birthday, Abhishek Kumar digs out 22 interesting facts about the cricketer from West India.

1. Humble background

As per media reports, it is said that Hardik’s family’s financial condition was never good till he made his entry into Indian Premier League (IPL) in 2015 for Mumbai Indians (MI). His family shifted from Surat to Baroda just for the sake of Hardik and his brother Krunal’s cricket training.

2. Failed in 9th standard

During his school days, Hardik could not clear the exams of 9th standard and later left studies to focus only on cricket.

3. Free coaching for Hardik

Former Indian cricketer Kiran More did not charge any fee from Hardik and his brother Krunal for first three years in his cricket academy in Baroda.

4. Leg-spinner

Initially, Hardik used to bowl leg-spin but later he turned towards medium pace and credit of the same goes to More.

5. Rs 400

Till two years back, in the local tournament in villages of Gujarat, Hardik used to get paid INR 400 to play for any team. He revealed this story in an interview with ESPNCricinfo and said, “There was no name for the tournament. It was just between villages. I would play for teams like Jhambuja XI. What was the fascination? Rs 400. My brother used to get Rs 500. For a week at least, life would be normal. There was no name for the tournament.”

6. Borrowed bats from Irfan Pathan

During his starting days in domestic cricket, Hardik did not have any bat to play in the Vijay Hazare Trophy of 2014 but thanks to Irfan Pathan, who gave him his bats after he called on to the left-arm pacer for help.

7. Spotted by John Wright

In his debut List A season, Hardik quickly impressed the then MI coach John Wright, who later called him for a trial. Just after the trial, he was picked by MI at base price for IPL 2015.

8. Under Ricky Ponting’s wings

In that interview, Hardik revealed how former Australian captain helped him in facing short-balls. As per Hardik, during his first net session, Ponting’s first question to him was ‘what did he want to improve?’. Hardik straight away said facing short-pitched bowling and from there on, they did specific drills and Ponting explained him the pull shot, upper cut, square cut, the hook.

“Take the example of the pull. He asked me to pull the ball, after which he told me I was bending my leg too much and that in that position I could not pull properly. He told me my leg should be straight,” Hardik said.

9. Golden words from Sachin Tendulkar

After a warm-up match at Wankhede Stadium, Sachin Tendulkar praised Hardik and predicted that he will soon play for India if he plays the way he does.  That statement from Tendulkar came during IPL 2015 and next year in January 2016, Hardik made his Twenty20 International (T20I) debut by playing for India.

10. IPL debut

Hardik made his IPL debut for MI against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCb), where he scored an impactful 16 runs from six balls, which included only two sixes. He bowled three overs as well but was quite expensive as he conceded 37 runs and went wicketless.

In the same interview with ESPNCricinfo, Hardik explained everything about this by saying, “Till the 18th over, we had lost only three wickets. I was batting at No. 8. I did not expect I would even get to pad up. But then David Wiese took three wickets in an over. Rohit bhai [Sharma] got out, Polly [Kieron Pollard] got out and then Rayudu bhai [Ambati Rayudu]. Before me, Bhajji pa [Harbhajan Singh] went in to bat. I finally faced my first ball, the last ball of Wiese’s over, and took a single. Then I saw Abu Nechim was going to bowl the final over. Bhajji pa came up and said, ‘Jee le yaar, tu’ (Enjoy yourself). He had watched me in the nets and was happy I was hitting big sixes. First ball: six. Bhajji pa, energetic and happy, said, ‘Waah, veere. Well done.’ Two balls later I hit another six. ‘Chhaa gaya tu,’ (You’re on a roll) he said. That shifted the momentum towards us.”

He was also praised by Ponting for that short cameo in his debut and added, “I remember Ponting saying after we won the final that people remember Hardik Pandya for the CSK game and the Kolkata one, but I still remember him for the RCB one, because we won the game by 18 runs.”

11. Story behind Hardik’s match-winning cameo against CSK

Hardik played a match-winning knock against CSK in IPL 2015 by scoring 21 runs from just eight balls, which included three sixes. Before the match, Hardik did not want to play because of the catch in his neck but thanks to MI trainer Paul Chapman, who motivated him to play and asked him to be on the field after having some painkillers. Till first 10 overs of the match, Hardik was unable to move his neck properly and had taken five painkillers. Later, after the match, Hardik hugged Chapman and calls that match as the turning point of his career.

Hardik also explained how it all happened in last two overs and said, “[Dwayne] Bravo was bowling really well. We felt the game was getting out of our hands because the ball was gripping [the pitch] and Bravo was bowling slower ones. He had given only four runs in the 18th over. When we saw Negi come to bowl, Rayudu said: go for it. The first ball from Negi I hit for six over long-on. MS Dhoni immediately said: “Negi, nahi, nahi, nahi” (Negi, no, no, no). The next ball I tried to reverse-sweep and missed. Rayudu was shouting abuse at me in Hindi. I was laughing even while he was shouting. The next two balls went for sixes and the match was over.”

12. When skipper Rohit Sharma asked Hardik to bat ahead of Harbhajan

In a match against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in IPL 2015, Ponting suggested Rohit to send Hardik ahead of Harbhajan. Hardik came out to bat at a crunch situation when MI were four down for 79 and from there on, he ended up scoring 31-ball 61 with the help of 8 fours and 2 sixes. His 61-run knock ensured a good total of 171 on board which KKR failed to chase as they lost by 5 runs.

13. Runs flowing from the willow

During a Group C match against Delhi in Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy of 2016, Hardik smashed a scintillating 81 off just 51 balls and during this course, he made headlines because of scoring 39 runs in an over of Akash Sudan. Hardik went berserk and hammered 39 runs in Sudan’s over which also included a no ball.

#t20 #ontrack

A video posted by Hardik Pandya (@hardikpandya_official) on

Hardik continued his masterstroke. When India were tottering at 87 for 5 against Australia in Chennai in the first ODI of the five-match ODI series, Hardik created havoc. Pandya joined hands with MS Dhoni and revived the Indian innings. In the 37th over, Pandya attacked Adam Zampa by hitting three successive sixes and a four. That over yielded 24 runs. In the process he also brought up his third ODI fifty.

Prior to the Australia innings, he had scored 28 runs off Ashok Dinda in the IPL match between Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) and Mumbai Indians (MI) in Pune.

14. Thanks to WhatsApp

Hardik credits WhatsApp for his spoken English skills and confidence while interacting with people. Hardik once said that reason behind him speaking more confidently in English is WhatsApp.

15. Most expensive first over by a debutant

Hardik got his India cap in the first T20I against Australia on January 26, 2016 at Adelaide Oval. Indian captain MS Dhoni asked him to bowl in the eighth over of the match in which he delivered 11 deliveries because of five wide balls. He conceded 19 runs from his first over, which happens to be the most runs leaked by any bowler in his maiden T20I over. Later, he was given the ball twice and scalped two wickets to his name, which worked as a relief for him after that disastrous first over.

16. The West Indian cricketer

It was Ashish Nehra who first called Hardik a West Indian cricketer. Not because he comes from the western part of country, but because of his personality and nature. Nehra said that Hardik definitely is an all-rounder of the Caribbean mould, on the lines of Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo, Andre Russell, etc. Technically, Nehra isn’t wrong as Baroda is a region located in Western part of India.

17. Hardik’s popularity, Krunal’s gain

After performing for India in T20Is against Australia and Sri Lanka, Hardik had become quite popular and his popularity led his brother gain the profit as Krunal bagged INR 2 crore in IPL 2016 auction. Krunal is Hardik’s elder brother and he was also bought by MI.

18. Final over against Bangladesh

In the super 10 match of ICC World T20 2016 against Bangladesh, Hardik was asked to bowl the final over, where he had to defend 11 runs to win the match for India. Experienced bowler Nehra gave him few suggestions but Hardik kept laughing. First ball was a single but the second ball was a boundary followed by another one on his third ball. At that point, Bangladesh needed two from three. India’s defeat was very much on the cards but Bangladeshi batsman choked as they threw their wickets in next two balls.

On the final delivery, the equation came down to 2 from 1. Once again there were a few suggestions by Nehra to Hardik but he kept laughing. Hardik bowled the final delivery which was the short one and quite outside off with the tense situation at the ground. Bangladeshi batsman Shuvagata Hom missed it and skipper Dhoni, who had already removed his gloves, picked the ball and ran to break the stumps. The decision was referred to third umpire and it came in India’s favour. From that moment, Hardik became another hero of Indian cricket.

19. Nicknames

Among his MI teammates, he is famous with his nickname as ‘Rockstar’ but according to Hardik, he is often called ‘Hairy’ for his funky hairstyles. Just before the World T20 2016, Hardik revealed an interesting fact about his nicknames by saying, “My nickname is Hairy and my teammates call me anything they want but Raina bhai says that I am the Neymar of India, and Mahi bhai seconds that thought.”

20. Poor run in IPL 2016

Hardik became quite popular after his outing with Indian cricket team in World T20 2016 and because of that, there were some high expectations from him but he failed to deliver in IPL 2016. He played 11 matches for MI, scored only 44 runs and scalped three wickets. In fact, his brother Krunal played much better than Hardik in IPL 2016.

21. Girlfriend

It is said that model Lisha Sharma is Hardik’s girlfriend as both have been seen together on many occasions. Also, both went to Hong Kong for holidaying in August 2016 as Lisha posted couple of pictures and videos from her Instagram account.

Talk Disney to me

A photo posted by L I S H A S H A R M A (@hippieemermaid) on

22. ODI call

After playing T20Is for India, Hardik got promoted to India’s One-Day side as he was selected in the squad for first three matches against New Zealand recently.

23. Test call-up and records

Hardik was just 3 matches old in Test cricket and he earned a record to his name. In the third Test against Sri Lanka two months ago, Hardik came to bat at No. 8. He brought up his debut century off 86 deliveries that comprised of three sixes and two fours. Hardik scored 26 runs off an over, which was the most by an Indian batsman in Test cricket. Malinda Pushpakumara bowled the over to Hardik. His 86-ball century was also the fastest by an Indian player coming at No. 8 position.