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How Hardik Pandya survived on Maggi before becoming Indian cricket team star

Hardik Pandya, Indian cricket team all-rounder, had to endure financial problems before making it big. He and his brother Krunal Pandya are both known names now.

india vs sri lanka 2017 Updated: Jul 31, 2017 22:25 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
India vs Sri Lanka,Hardik Pandya,Indian Cricket Team
Hardik Pandya is now a regular member of Indian cricket team in important tournaments.(Getty Images)

Hardik Pandya, Indian cricket team star who has taken giant strides from being an Indian Premier League (IPL) cricketer to making his Test debut against Sri Lanka in Galle, has really come a long way. Battling several financial difficulties at home, he and his brother Krunal established themselves as talent to watch out for.

Hardik Pandya revealed his struggles and journey through the ranks to the national side on a talk show. The 23-year-old informed how he would eat two-minute noodle snack Maggi for morning and evening meals and borrow cricket kit to play.

“During U-19 days, my diet would be Maggi, both in the morning and evening. I was a big fan of Maggi and the situation was also like that. It was difficult to maintain a diet, financially it was a problem. Now I can eat whatever I want, but that time there were many problems in the family, especially financial issues,” Hardik Pandya said on ‘What the Duck’ show.

READ | Hardik Pandya can be to India what Ben Stokes is to England: Virat Kohli

“During U-16 days, the taste buds were pretty active, it was tough to control, but now I have to. It has been a beautiful journey.

Borrowing cricket kit

“A lot of people are not aware of this. We had bought a car but there were no savings. Wherever Krunal and I would go to play matches, we would go in the car. We had to take cricket kit from Baroda Cricket Association (BCA) for one year. I was 17 and Krunal was, I guess, around 19. A lot of people questioned, ‘they are coming in a car but cannot afford a cricket kit?’,” he said.

Hardik clarified that many people were not aware of their situation. “We were pretty much sure we will never accept sympathy from anyone, no matter what.

“My father was the only earning person at home. He suffered a heart attack — not one but two and that too within one night. He almost got another attack six months later, but we were glad we reached the hospital in time. The financial problems started at that time ... we had no savings and perhaps we spent more than what we earned,” revealed Hardik.

READ | IPL 2017: Krunal and Hardik Pandya living their dream with Mumbai Indians

“We used to get Rs 40,000 per year (read month) but they would cut Rs 4,000 TDS. Whatever we would earn would go in EMIs. We had a monthly EMI of Rs 10,000 for the car alone.

“We used to go to different villages to play. Krunal used to get more money — he would get Rs 500 for a match and I made Rs 400. But we would always travel in the car… nothing is bigger in life than self-respect (laughs). We would go to a petrol pump and buy two litres of petrol in bottles. We would stop a little ahead of the petrol pump. The second bottle would serve as back-up, so that we can at least get back home. We cannot empty both the bottles in one go, as we would never know how long it would last. This is my story till six months before I played IPL,” he shared.

Hardik and Krunal both play for Mumbai Indians, but it is the younger brother who broke into the national side first.

Tendulkar’s advice

It is well-known that Sachin Tendulkar had told Hardik Pandya during an IPL season that he would play for India soon, but the former did not expect it would be within six months.

“I still remember the first time I met Sachin Tendulkar. It was a surprising encounter. It was the first match for Mumbai Indians (MI), I was already star-struck and we were leaving for Kolkata. I was having my food and someone tapped my shoulder from behind and said ‘hi’. I turned around and literally dropped my plate. I kept it aside; I was astounded. We were not expecting; no one had informed us that he would be coming over. It took about 20-25 minutes for me to gather myself,” he recalled.

READ | How Sachin Tendulkar foresaw Hardik Pandya’s meteoric rise as a cricketer

“Not many people would know this. When I had not even played for India, before that we had a do-or-die game in Hyderabad. He (Tendulkar) told me ‘I want to speak to you, meet me some time later’. I went to him after the match but he was busy with the team and he told me, ‘let us speak in Mumbai’.

“In Mumbai, after a warm-up session, I went to him. I was very curious what he would say. Tendulkar took me aside and told me ‘you are doing really well. I should not be telling you but the way you have been playing, the talent and potential you have, you will play for India in the next one or one-and-a-half years’. I called up Krunal and told him Sir has said so and so. For my family it did not matter whether I played for India or not, since it was Sachin Sir who had said this, it gave an assurance that I could do something good for myself,” Hardik shared.

Expressive Pandya

Hardik Pandya also recalled his innings against Royal Challengers Bangalore, batting alongside Harbhajan Singh. “I still remember it was my first innings against RCB. I had walked out to bat in a funny situation of sorts. Two overs were left and we were only two wickets down. I was not padded up. They had a bowler named David Wiese and he claimed three wickets in one over. I went in in a hurry and went to Bhajji pa, he said just one thing ‘jee le zindagi’ (live your life). I went on to hit two sixes,” he said.

“People think that I am a drama king. It is my personality, I cannot hide my expressions. Whatever I do, I do it openly, even when I am alone. It comes naturally to me,” Hardik added.

First Published: Jul 31, 2017 11:46 IST