It would not be an exaggeration to say that India and Mumbai Indians all-rounder Hardik Pandya is a rare talent in this part of the world. While the country is blessed with some of the world's greatest batters and a few world-class spinners, the area where they have traditionally lacked is fast bowlers. In addition to his pace bowling, Hardik also brings to the table his ability with the bat and his audacity to play outrageous strokes against the best of opponent bowling.
However, his journey in the Indian cricket circuit has not been all smooth and flawless. In fact, a major dip in his career came when he was handed a suspension by the BCCI in 2019. This was after the all-rounder along with KL Rahul had made insensitive remarks on a TV chat show.
While Pandya missed a big part of India's tour of Australia and New Zealand, he was even being perceived as the "bad boy." This even led to financial losses as brands and companies were no longer interested in associating with him.
That day I cried during training: Hardik narrates story of emotional breakdown
"When I heard I was going to get suspended, a lot of cricketers who knew me personally, who knew what kind of an individual I am, they went out and spoke about it, which is fine. They thought I was done. I heard lots of people saying, 'Hardik's done, he won't be able to cope with this.' Because I was the bad boy of Indian cricket at that time," Hardik said while speaking to Cricket Monthly.
"At the Chinnaswamy [Bengaluru], while practising, I was missing the ball by this much (shows a wide gap). Because when this is not right (points to head) and when you question yourself, things just go wrong," he added.
"That day I cried during training because there was a lot of emotion. Because of how I was portrayed [after the talk-show incident]. I was never that individual. I was not able to concentrate on my sport because there was a lot of expectation from myself, leave anyone else," he further said.
For now though Hardik would want to forget that testing time and focus on the job at hand in the ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2021. Although he did not bowl a single over in the UAE leg of IPL 2021, if he is not fully fit to bowl in the World Cup, it will be a major dent to Team India's balance for the world event.