Indore Krunal Pandya was not a well-known name when he was picked by Mumbai Indians in the 2016 Indian Premier League (IPL) auction for an impressive Rs 2 crore.
Most knew him as the elder brother of India all-rounder Hardik Pandya and many were surprised by the price tag.
However, Krunal quickly proved his worth in the team with impressive all-round performances, and this year he has been one of the best performers for his team till now.
However, the journey has not been smooth for the 26-year old from Baroda.
The 2016 IPL season could not have gone better for Krunal as he was the star for Mumbai Indians. He scored 237 runs in 12 matches with a strike rate of 191.12. Although he took only six wickets, his controlled bowling made him the perfect partner to Harbhajan Singh.
Soon, experts were predicting a national team call-up for the all-rounder. However, the happiness did not last long.
Just after the IPL, Krunal was sidelined with an injury that ruined his Ranji Trophy debut season for Baroda. Playing against Gujarat in Jaipur, he tore his left quadriceps while fielding on the third day of the encounter. It was the same injury that bothered him before the start of IPL 2016 and surgery resulted in him missing the entire Ranji season.
It was a huge blow as there was talk of Krunal getting a spot in the India squad for the ODI series against Zimbabwe.
The injury was a minor obstacle as Krunal came back with renewed passion.
The 26-year old made his comeback in the Vijay Hazare Trophy and his impact was almost instantaneous. He was the highest run-scorer (366 from eight matches) and wicket-taker (11 from eight matches) for his team. Thanks to his all-round performance, Baroda were able to reach the semifinals of the tournament. They were ultimately defeated by eventual champions Tamil Nadu, but Krunal’s performance showed that he had not lost a single trick.
The all-rounder has been able to maintain the momentum going into IPL 2017 and has been one of the key players for Mumbai Indians this season.
He has scored 88 runs in four innings with a healthy strike rate of 144.26. His partnership with Kieron Pollard was instrumental in his team’s victory over Royal Challengers Bangalore. Krunal has also been a consistent performer with the ball and his impressive economy rate of 6.85 has been an asset for MI this season.
It has been a whirlwind year for Krunal and the IPL can be the platform to prove his worth once again to the Indian selectors ahead of the Champions Trophy.