CUTTACK: As he got down to plot his return to the Indian team, Hardik Pandya would hit the bed at 9.30pm and wake up at 5am, dedicating the day’s intervening period of time to win battles against his own self and the doubting Thomases.
The star all-rounder followed this time-table strictly for four months, after which he guided an unfancied Gujarat Titans to a memorable title triumph in only its maiden IPL outing, leading the debutant from the front to earn an India call-up.
In a video posted by the BCCI, Pandya recalled the win in IPL 2022 and the rewards that followed.
“I was happy. It was more about the battles I won against my own self and a lot of other things as well. Winning the IPL, or even qualifying (for playoffs) was a big deal for me because a lot of people doubted us.
“A lot of people frowned at us before we started. A lot of people raised a lot of questions. A lot of things were said about me even before I made a comeback,” Pandya said.
“It was never about giving them answers. I’m just proud of the process I followed. No one knows what I went through the six months that I was off. I’ve gotten up at 5 in morning to make sure I train. I slept at 9:30 pm in the night for four months, so (there was) a lot of sacrifice. “It was the battle I fought before the IPL. I have always worked hard in my life, and it has always given me the result I wanted,” added Pandya.
He also said the ongoing series against South Africa is the ideal platform to get into the groove for the upcoming T20 World Cup.
“Every series or every game you play is as important as your last. So, for me, World Cup is the goal, this is the right platform to get into the rhythm and a lot of cricket is going to come back-to-back.
“My role will be changed here, I won’t be captain, I won’t be batting higher up the order and guiding through the innings. This will be back to being the Hardik for which I am known for,” Hardik said.
Coming back into international cricket after a long layoff, Hardik fitted seamlessly in the finisher’s role, smashing 31 not out from just 12 balls in the first T20 against the Proteas.