Hardik Pandya credits MS Dhoni for keeping cool head in nervous Nineties
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Hardik Pandya credits MS Dhoni for keeping cool head in nervous Nineties

Hardik Pandya has credited former India captain MS Dhoni for keeping his cool in the 90s. The 23-year-old scored his maiden Test century against Sri Lanka in the third match of the series in Pallekele

india vs sri lanka 2017 Updated: Aug 14, 2017 10:27 IST
Sanjjeev K Samyal
Sanjjeev K Samyal
Hindustan Times, Pallekele
Hardik Pandya,MS Dhoni,Sri Lanka national cricket team
Hardik Pandya added 66 runs for the tenth wicket with Umesh Yadav in the third Test match against Sri Lanka. He scored his maiden Test ton versus Sri Lanka in Pallekele on Sunday.(REUTERS)

For someone who has not scored many hundreds in his career, it was remarkable how Hardik Pandya paced his innings during his maiden Test hundred. (3rd TEST LIVE SCORES)

Biding his time initially, getting his eye in and feet moving, shielding his tail-enders and then finally going after the bowling, it was more a seasoned pro in action and not someone who had yet to get a hundred even in first-class cricket.

Hardik Pandya didn’t even remember when he scored his last hundred.

When asked about his last hundred, Pandya hesitated. “I scored in under-19. I am 24, no 23. So, some four-five years back, I scored my hundred. Actually I don’t remember when I scored the hundred.”

READ | ‘Hardik Pandya can be the next Kapil Dev if he stays grounded’

No nerves

The best part was the ease with which he got to the mark with no signs of nervous nineties. He owed the calm nerves to former India captain MS Dhoni’s mentoring.

“(It was the) first time in my life I have not had the 90s butterflies. I don’t remember previous centuries, but I used to have butterflies in my stomach from what I can remember. I have said when I bat I am in a different zone. I don’t think about my personal scores and achievements. It has helped me. One thing I learned from Mahi bhai is that you always put your team ahead, see the scoreboard and play accordingly. That has helped me throughout.”

Hardik Pandya started his Test career with a fifty, in the first match of this series at Galle. He came up with an impressive spell when Sri Lankan batsmen Kusal Mendis and Dimuth Karunaratne were raising a 188-run partnership in the second Test in Colombo. And at Pallekele, after his hundred, he came back and took a wicket off his third delivery.

READ | Highlights, India vs Sri Lanka, 3rd Test, Day 2, Pallekele: Hardik Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav shine as IND on top

So, is he making Test cricket look so easy?

“Obviously not!” said Pandya. “But I am pretty glad. God has been kind to me. I am lucky I got things pretty quickly in life. I am just happy that way. I am getting whatever I have worked hard for.”

No planned assault

Pandya said his hundred (108) was all about playing according to the situation and the 26-run over (off Malinda Pushpakumara) just happened. He was on 50 when India’s ninth wicket fell and he went berserk, racing to his next fifty in 25 balls.

“Honestly, I didn’t want to go all out in that over, but I don’t know what happened. Maybe I was connecting pretty well, and scored 26 runs. It obviously feels good. I saw the scoreboard and I was batting on 80, and I was like, wow! Then I felt I was in the zone, I don’t usually look at the scoreboard, I don’t want to know what’s happening around. I just focus on how I can help the innings progress.”

READ | Hardik Pandya wreaks havoc, slams maiden ton in Pallekele Test vs Sri Lanka

A dashing stroke-player, a sharp pace bowler and a brilliant fielder, Hardik Pandya has the makings of a fine batting all-rounder.

It has led to chief selector MSK Prasad comparing him with Kapil Dev. Pandya said he would be happy even if he achieves 10 % of what the legendary all-rounder has done.

READ |  Hardik Pandya achieves unique feat during quickfire ton in Pallekele Test vs SL

“If someone compares you with such legends… then it feels good. Obviously my focus is to play my cricket and just become what I can. Even if I can be 10 % of what he (Kapil) was, I will be pretty happy in my life.”

The chief selector, however, had added a caveat, ‘if he (Pandya) keeps himself grounded’. A calm head to go with his talent will be a winning combination.

First Published: Aug 13, 2017 21:56 IST