Hardik Pandya sat on the sidelines after the T20 World Cup played in the UAE last year and the all-rounder made his much-anticipated return in IPL 2022 where he led Gujarat Titans to ultimate glory in their debut season. The 28-year-old had scored 487 runs in the cash-rich league and he also took eight wickets with the ball in hand. Midway during the tournament, Hardik was named in India’s squad for the ongoing five-match series against South Africa.
The swashbuckling batter opened up on the sacrifices he made to make a comeback and also talked about how leading Gujarat Titans to an IPL title was very satisfying.
“Emotional-wise I was pretty alright. Obviously, I was happy but for me, it was more about the battle which I won against my own self and kind of other things as well. Obviously, winning IPL, more than anything for us to qualify was a big deal for me because a lot of people doubted us, a lot of people counted us out even before we started. A lot of people raised questions and having said that, a lot of things were said for me before I made a comeback. For me, it was never about giving them answers but I was just proud of the process that I followed,” Pandya told Star Sports.
“You know, I have gotten up at 5 am in the morning to make sure I train and then make sure that the second time I train at 4 and give myself enough rest. I slept almost those four months at 9:30 in the night. A lot of sacrifices were made but for me, it was the battle which I fought before playing the IPL. After seeing the result, it was more satisfying for me, as a cricketer,” he added.
When asked about his comeback to the national side, Pandya said: “Obviously very excited. Playing for the country has always been special and having after such a long break, you know coming back fresh and very excited to be back. It sort of gives me an opportunity to show what exactly I have worked hard for and you know, doing well for the country is more important, it gives me immense pleasure so just looking for positive days and exciting days ahead.”
In the first T20I against South Africa, India suffered a seven-wicket loss even after posting 211/4 in 20 overs. David Miller and Rassie van der Dussen put on an unbeaten stand of 131 to take Proteas over the line.
With the bat in hand, Hardik had scored 31 runs off just 12 balls.
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