Hardik Pandya made his India debut against Australia in January © AFP

Kolkata:  Young Indian all-rounder Hardik Pandya on Tuesday revealed that batting legend Sachin Tendulkar had told him during the Indian Premier League (IPL) last year that he would play for the national cricket side in the next 12 months. The 22-year-old has impressed even the harshest of critics with both the willow and the ball having bagged 10 wickets in 11 T20 internationals. He has also scored 62 runs in five innings. “During the IPL he (Sachin) told me I would play for India in the next one and half years and I got selected for the national side just seven months later,” Pandya told reporters in an Open-Media session. ALSO READ: Not answerable to critics, says MS Dhoni

When asked about his partnership with veteran pacer Ashish Nehra, Pandya said,” Ashu (Ashish Nehra) bhai has been of great help for me, I keep on asking him for suggestions. He has been there for so many years. He has been of great help to me and my bowling has improved with each passing game.
“He is ready to help me always. He always backs me and tells me you are much better than what you think you are. Gives me confidence, he is a great support.”

This will be Pandya’s first world event and the youngster is excited to be part of it. “Really excited to be in my first World Cup. As a 22-year-old, one year back I just got picked for the MI (Mumbai Indians) team and now after one year I am here so now let us see how it goes,” he said. ALSO READ: MS Dhoni: Hardik Pandya has proved to be a game changer

Pandya also did not want to label himself as a batting or bowling all-rounder instead he chose to say that he is a player who can do everything. “I am a proper all-rounder. I would not say I am a bowling all-rounder or batting all-rounder, I see myself as a player who can do everything,” he stated.

The Gujarat talent also stressed on the fact that he emulates South African icon Jacques Kallis. “I want to be like Kallis. Whatever he has done is exceptional,” he said. Asked how was it like to play against Pakistan in the Asia Cup, Pandya clad in the blue Indian jersey said,” India versus Pakistan was a normal cricket game. It is a sport and everyone should look at it that way. So there was no difference as such.

“Yes in the dressing room we were pumped up but actually we were more aggressive towards Australia,” he said.