Hardik Pandya seems to be a confident guy in the way he walks in to high pressure games © IANS
Hardik Pandya seems to be a confident guy in the way he walks in to high pressure games © IANS

With just his second season into the Indian Premier League (IPL), Baroda’s Hardik Pandya seems to have already made an impact with just six first-class games in his career so far. With just six matches played in the previous season, he has followers from around the world now.

He seems to be a confident guy, in the way he walks in to high pressure games, his stance while facing world-class bowlers, talking in a deep baritone voice, unapologetic smile and is not nervous at all. Owing to this character, he has instantly become a hit for Mumbai Indians (MI) coach, Ricky Ponting.

The swash-bucking batsman had earlier proved his worth with a six-ball 16 in Bangalore and eight ball 21 in Chennai, that helped Ponting realise his true worth. However, his knock on Thursday against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) was the biggest so far with 31 ball 61 that helped MI post a challenging total, as they won by five runs against the defending champions. READ: Shakib Al Hasan unhappy to not provide finishing touch for Kolkata Knight Riders against Mumbai Indians

He spoke about his performance to iplt20.com in an interview. “Definitely! This knock was very special for me. I had a word with Ricky [Ponting] and [Kieron] Pollard before I started my innings and they told me to just take my time because I can make up later in the innings,” he said.’

“To be very honest, I don’t get nervous a lot. I am a happy and positive person by nature and I just don’t feel tensed that often. It is a characteristic that has boded well for me so far in the season,” he added.

On being asked about his plans as he went out to bat on a crucial situation, he said, “Just be calm. We all knew that Pollard and I can smash the ball hard once we are set. We kept the plan very simple. Just stay at the wicket and score off whatever opportunity we get.”

While being asked about Pollard being a spectator at the non-strikers end to his innings, he said, “He was full of praise and positivity. The big man has a bigger heart. He just asked me to play according to the situation and that is what we did. He had to stay till the end and so I took the charge. He can hit almost any kind of delivery in the death overs and so I accelerated my innings earlier to make the most of the overs before the death overs started.”

He seemed to be really strong against the pacers as he batted beautifully against them, to which he said, “On this wicket the spinners were getting difficult for me to put away for runs. I had to target the pacers because Narine, Shakib and Piyush were bowling really well. It was easier to go big against the fast bowlers because we could use their pace rather than putting in too much force into the shots.”

“I enjoyed hitting the pull shot for six that got me my fifty. I have been working on that shot quite regularly with Ricky – he was the master of that shot. It felt amazing to get my first IPL fifty with that shot,” he added.

On being asked about dropping Gautam Gambhir before he was dismissed the next delivery, he said, ” Oh, it was such a relief. I was thanking god he got out bowled off the very next delivery. Gambhir is a very dangerous batsman and he could have chased the target quite easily. I was so very relieved that the drop didn’t prove to be expensive.” READ: Gautam Gambhir blames his bowlers and fielders

He also spoke about his relationship with coach, Ponting by saying “He is very friendly with me and we really enjoy each other’s company in whatever we do. I felt really good when he said those things about me. His words mean a lot to me.”

“The best advice he has given me is, ‘You need to trust yourself and maintain your shape’. I sometimes have a tendency to hit the ball very hard. He told me that if I just maintain my shape I can hit the ball far. That is exactly what I did today – I did not go too hard on the ball but used the pace and bounce of the bowler to get my boundaries,” he added.

He concluded by saying about his talks with batting with Ponting, “Yes, I do. In fact, before I went in to bat today, I asked him to just sit beside me for five minutes. All he said was, ‘Take your time, feel free and enjoy your game. If you do that, you will hit them big’. They were very simple words but having him by my side and telling me those things put me at ease.”