Team India all-rounder Hardik Pandya made a strong comeback to the game in the 2022 Indian Premier League. Pandya ended the season as the fourth-highest run-getter (487 runs in 15 matches), and also led the Gujarat Titans to title victory in their maiden season. Thanks to his consistent performances in the league, he made a return to the Indian team for the T20I series against South Africa and was named the vice-captain of the side. For the two T20Is against Ireland, Hardik will be leading the team.
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In an interview with StarSports, Pandya opened up on being given the India captaincy, insisting that it is a reward for the hard work that he put on during the six months when he was away from action.
“I knew at the beginning of the series. Obviously, it’s always an honor to lead your country. Who would have thought 7 months back. Life changes. It can change a lot if you have the right mind and keep working hard,” Hardik said.
Pandya also reflected on the six months prior to IPL 2022 and stated that he wanted to return to his former self, referring to the time before his tryst with injuries that eventually ruled him out for almost half a year.
“When I took a break from cricket, I decided that whenever I return, I will come back with my best version. The by-product that came with it; we became champions (in IPL), I got the vice-captaincy of the Indian team, it is all a byproduct of the process that I follow. The things that happened earlier… I decided that I wanted to return to the old version of myself; one who was fit, who batted, who bowled, who fielded,” Pandya said.
The all-rounder further said that there can be no “bigger U-turn.”
“When I look back at how I was six months ago, and how I am six months later… my life can’t take a bigger U-turn than this,” said Hardik.
Further speaking about his upcoming captaincy stint with Team India for the two T20Is against Ireland, Hardik said that he has never been the one to shy away from responsibilities.
“I want responsibility. It allows me to make the right decision, to manage things. I know I will make the right decisions because I own them,” said the all-rounder.
“I know what my role is in the team. That’s the reason I’m fit, physically and mentally. It is good knowing that you will be a key member. I know whenever the opportunity comes, I will deliver. My goal is to take responsibilities because they eventually make you a better cricketer.”