After IPL trophy, Hardik Pandya wants to win World Cup for India
Minutes after the final was over, Hardik Pandya was quietly caressing the IPL trophy flap as one of the BCCI employees was inscribing the name of new champion Gujarat Titans (GT).
It seemed as if an indulgent father was tousling his son’s hair with love. That trophy was indeed Pandya’s labour of love. For all the hard work put in after some years of circumspection and uncertainties. We all saw it but he dealt with it.
His wife Natasa hugged him. It was an act of assurance – that his support system is firmly behind him, earlier in thin and now in thick.
“I live and feed on love, which I keep getting from my family,” said the man, who won it for the Titans in first half itself with the wickets of Jos Buttler, Sanju Samson and Shimron Hetmyer.
The 34 runs in a low-scoring chase were just the cherry on top.
On May 29, 2022, India just got another genuine white-ball captaincy option in Pandya.
His MS Dhoni style of calm leadership has blind-sided even the best of cricket analysts in the country, who wouldn’t have remotely considered him of being a left-field choice in their wildest of dreams even three months back.
But the dream has turned into a reality and Pandya has walked the talk as a leader with 487 runs and 8 wickets.
“I have always enjoyed the responsibility and been someone, who wants to lead from the front so that I can set an example,” Pandya told reporters during a virtual press conference.
“If I want my team to function in a certain way, I need to be the first flag-bearer to show them the way. So that, it makes more sense if I do it first,” Pandya spoke with conviction, and all who listened believed him.
Eyeing World Cup glory
Hardik in his six-year start-stop international career has played one ICC final (Champions Trophy in 2017) and two semi-finals (T20 World Cup in 2016 and ODI World Cup in 2019).
On June 9, it will be one of the sweetest of comebacks for Pandya in India Blue and the eyes are trained on a World Cup triumph. There are two in the next 16 months – one in the shortest version (T20) and the other in the shorter version (ODI).
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“It’s about winning the World Cup for India, no matter what happens. I have always been that guy to put the team first, so the goal will be to see my team gets it (global trophy) most,” he said.
“Playing for India has always been a dream come true. No matter how many games I have played, I have always got support and love. In the short and long term, one goal is there. I want to win the World Cup no matter what happens,” he makes his priorities crystal clear.
Lifting the IPL trophy isn’t a new experience for Pandya but guiding a new team in its first year is certainly super special and he makes no bones while admitting it.
“This is a bit more special as I got it as a captain. But those earlier four (2015, 17, 19, 20 with MI) were equally special. I am insanely lucky to win five out of five IPLs, but this IPL trophy will create a legacy,” Pandya declared in his booming baritone.
“Today was a day, we got such support with 110,000, we got all rewards for the hard work,” he added.