India all-rounder Hardik Pandya was at his belligerent best as he smashed a whirlwind century off just 37 balls in the 16th DY Patil T20 tournament at the Reliance Corporate Park on Tuesday. Eyeing a comeback to the national squad after recovering from lower back injury, Hardik has sent a strong message to the Team India selectors ahead of the upcoming three-match ODI series against South Africa, beginning March 12.

The 26-year-old explosive all-rounder scored 105 off 39-ball as he powered Reliance 1 to a massive total of 252/5 in 20 overs against CAG in Group C encounter of the domestic T20 cup. Hardik not only showcased his brute power but gave enough glimpses of his fitness during his splendid knock. His innings was studded with 10 huge maximums and eight fours.

After the innings, Hardik said he is happy with the way he is shaping up after being away from the game for almost six months. “It’s fantastic (platform) for someone like me. I have been away for almost six months. This is my second game after a long time. For me it is a good platform to see where I am currently and test my body. I am really happy with the way things have gone,” Hardik said on DY Patil Sports Academy Facebook page.

On his big-hitting prowess, the Baroda-born added: “If it’s there in my arc I just back myself and go for it. Most of the times, it comes out pretty well. There is no plan that I am going to go out there and smash it.”

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Earlier, Hardik had shown his all-round skills with a knock of 38 off 25 balls to help his side post 150 for eight in their 20 overs in the first match as well.

He underwent surgery after suffering a lower-back injury five months ago and has since been on a road to recovery. Hardik could not be fit in time for the New Zealand tour but started bowling at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru after returning from a check-up in the UK.

The all-rounder last played a T20I against South Africa in Bengaluru in September last year. India take on the Proteas again in three ODIs starting March 12 in Dharamsala. The second ODI will be held in Lucknow on March 15 followed by the final one in Kolkata on March 18.