Hardik Pandya issues a warning: ‘I am a ruthless cricketer on field’

Time & Us
Last Updated: September 10, 2017 at 1:51 am

MUMBAI: On Friday evening, as Hardik Pandya walked into the hall for the designated interview, the highlights of the third Test between Sri Lanka and India were being shown on the TV screen. The Man-of-the-Match of that Test didn’t want to waste a chance of watching himself from the other side of the screen.
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He settled down, but kept stealing glances. That hundred indeed meant a lot for the 23-year-old. In a candid chat with Hindustan Times that followed, he not only spoke on the series and the ton but on a lot other things, including his new hairstyle which caught everybody’s attention in Sri Lanka.
How do you feel after taking part in an overseas tour as a Test cricketer?
Obviously, I feel happy about how things have gone so far. I mean I went from T20Is to one-day cricket, where my start was pretty amazing and then the Test series was fabulous because I always dreamt of playing for India in whites.
You never showed any nerves…
Well, honestly, I just make sure that I see the situation well… If you see, I didn’t go all brash in my first Test century. When we had lost eight wickets, I understood the situation and played accordingly. I was batting normally but once he (the ninth wicket) fell, I eventually had to go all out.
I always feel you should be confident. There are people who say I can’t control and but I can rather than focusing on what if this happens or that happens.
Being the flamboyant type, and Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri are also somewhat similar, does it help you to understand each other better?
I’ve seen Virat, and the discipline he has, and the confidence he has. I am confident and I want to learn his discipline. I keep on asking questions, try to learn.
I might look like a guy who does all kinds of things but actually I am a very reserved person. I may look like I party freak who is not disciplined. But I have a focus on the game and that is always there. It’s okay, people may have issues but it’s just that it’s my nature.
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Virat said he doesn’t want you to change because it brings the best out of you…
That’s the best thing, because in that way I’m genuine and that’s how they (team) want me to be. I just express whatever I feel. I just focus on those things — to be genuine and to help people. I can change my work ethics, control my game, be polite to people and be good to people.
Can you tell us about your new hairstyle?
I keep on trying. I don’t do it for anyone. I do it for myself, so I don’t care if you like it or don’t like it. It’s just that I felt like doing it so I did it. It’s like owning your own farm. You can always grow whatever you want. So, khud ki kheti hai, jo ugaana hai ugaalo.”
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Are the tattoos and hairstyles a statement?
I don’t think so. It’s just my personality. I don’t know if that’s going to define future cricketers. If someone wants to have it, go on with it, and if not, I don’t know… It’s just my personality.
What does criticism mean to you?
I have such wonderful people like my brothers, my few friends in my life; I don’t bother about what others are saying about me. I often don’t know what people are talking about. There are people who come and tell me ‘Hey this is wrong and you should not be doing this’ and I’m pretty open to that.
You recently gifted a car to your father…
I like gifting things, my brother and I don’t forget people. If I have taken 10 things from somebody, then I will give you 100 back. Of course my father is my father. Two days before I got my hundred (in the third Test at Pallekele), I was not able to sleep. It was almost 2.30 am and I had to get up at 6.30, usually I sleep at 10.30 during match days. I called Krunal (elder brother). He didn’t answer and I left a message that ‘we should gift daddy a car’. And, his reply was ‘ok’. I take all the decisions through Krunal. When he said let’s do it, in one day it was arranged. But more than anything for us as a family the most important thing is looking into the happiness of each other.
Incidentally, I had a conversation with my father at the end of the first day’s play, when I was batting on 1 and my father casually remarked ‘add two zeroes to the one tomorrow’. Next day, I actually scored my first Test hundred.
That hundred was remarkable for the restraint you showed?
I don’t know why people think I cannot control myself. I was just playing according to the situation. I can hit, but it is not that I can only hit. I played my junior cricket as a No 3 batsman.
You were all pumped up and when you came on to bowl…
I am someone who likes to be charged up. (When in the middle) I only focus on my game and I just want to be ruthless, that’s how I am. I have said in an interview, that ‘if you want to come and fight, I am not the one who will step back’. When I am bowling I am a different guy, when I bat I am a different guy, I don’t react, I don’t smile much, when I bowl I smile, I fight, I show aggression, everything comes naturally.
How do you look at being termed as the rockstar of Indian cricket?
I don’t mind. They want to name me rockstar, I am happy. But I am Hardik Pandya, who knows his game.