Hardik Pandya has had to endure a topsy-turvy start to his international career. He was fast-tracked into the T20I set-up in Australia last year and played a barrage of T20s, including the World T20 semi-final against West Indies. Soon he saw himself in the ODI squads as well. And finally, after injuries had robbed him of chances of a Test debut in India, he turned up in whites for his country in Sri Lanka.
Pandya is from the IPL bloodline, a product of a tournament that is as used to throwing people into the spotlight as it is to chucking them into oblivion. He has been part of Mumbai Indians since 2015 and has grown up being part of a side full of superstars. He would party as hard as he would play, with West Indians for the company. He had the absolute best in the business to guide him and was marked as one with potential – a hard hitter, good fielder and a useful bowler.
With India too, he made quite an impact. It helped further that India was on the lookout for just that kind of a player. He was erratic, underlined by his 11-ball first over in international cricket, but was also most apt for the job at hand. Pandya was the bits-and-pieces cricketer for India, a jack of many trades, but his influence in each of the departments was slowly growing.
Now pushed into Tests, Pandya continues to prove that he is more than capable of holding on to his spot. So much so that Virat Kohli even said Pandya can do the job that Ben Stokes does for England. There may have been giggles under the breath at the statement because Pandya still has a long way to go and in all formats, but it showed how much the Indian management thinks of him.
Hatrik sixes and Hardik Pandya… Greatest love story!