In IPL 2019 so far, Hardik has played 12 matches for Mumbai Indians and smashed 355 runs at a strike rate of 198.32. He is hitting the ball as cleanly as anyone can and has the second-best strike rate in the tournament, only behind Kolkata Knight Riders' Andre Russell
Not long ago, Hardik Pandya, after his appearance on a popular television show 'Koffee With Karan' became India’s hottest topic for in India, for all the wrong reasons. From news channels to social media, people were trolling him left, right and centre, and it was a phase that will surely occupy some space in his autobiography if he ever decides to write one.
He missed a lot of cricket because of it, and suddenly, things were looking dark for one of the brightest young talents in world cricket. But, Hardik kept working hard in the nets and waited for his return to international cricket.
After long media trials and discussions between the top office bearers of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), Hardik was called back to play for India, much to the delight of Indian cricket team fans.
Fast forward Indian Premier League 2019
In the ODI and T20I series against New Zealand before IPL 2019, Hardik wasn't in the best of form, and his average form became a cause of worry for the team and fans. But, all those doubts have been put to rest, and it can be said that Hardik is one of the most in-form Indian players ahead of the ICC World Cup 2019.
In IPL 2019 so far, Hardik has played 12 matches for Mumbai Indians and smashed 355 runs at a strike rate of 198.32. He is hitting the ball as cleanly as anyone can and has the second-best strike rate in the tournament, only behind Kolkata Knight Riders' Andre Russell. He has smashed 27 sixes and 25 boundaries and averages and 50.71 in the tournament.
The most destructive innings of his career
On Sunday, Hardik played one of the most destructive innings in the history of IPL. Mumbai lost the match, but it was an innings that will be talked about for many years to come. Pandya scored 91 runs off 34 balls and almost took Mumbai Indians home, single-handedly.
When Hardik came in to bat at No. 6, Mumbai's run-rate was 6.96, and the required rate was 15 per over. It was all very dull and slow for Mumbai Indians in the middle, but Hardik came like a storm and played the most destructive knock of IPL 2019. He smashed nine brutal sixes and six boundaries.
Instead of being bogged down by the situation, Hardik counter-attacked KKR and destroyed their bowling at the Eden Gardens. He got his fifty off just 17 balls--fastest of IPL 2019-- and smashed six every 3.5 balls in his innings.
Hardik Pandya has played the role of finisher to perfection for Mumbai Indians
He has batted in all 12 matches Mumbai Indians have played so far and played the role of finisher to perfection. In T20 cricket, 'leading run-scorers of the tournament' is mostly top order batsmen, but despite batting so low in the batting order, Hardik is at number 13 position on the list, and he is the only lower order batsman to make the top 15.
He has remained unbeaten five times and has helped his team win on four of those occasions.
Mumbai Indians are one of the best IPL franchises when it comes to work ethics and management of players. MI have always hired the best people and right from the start of the first season; they have always had that 'family-like' atmosphere in the dressing room. It needs to be said that being a part of MI has helped Hardik in handling himself in the best way after the talk-show controversy.
First press conference after the controversy
"For me it was important to keep hitting the ball well because I was away from the game for some time and coming back it was important for me to hit," he said in his first press conference after his unbeaten 37 off 16 against Royal Challengers Bangalore in Mumbai, which was also his first press-conference after the controversy.
"I wanted to improve, and I got some time for my body as well and for the game. I think the time for which I was out, it's helping me right now because I'm in good mental space and everything is coming right."
Interview after the home game against Chennai Super Kings, in which he gave the man of the match performance.
"It has been seven months that I have hardly played games. I've just batted and batted and batted, and touch wood the game is getting improved. These seven months have not been easy. I was out, and then I didn't know what to do," Hardik Pandya said in an interview with Star Sports.
In his latest interview after the match against KKR
"My confidence will grow high. I really want to win this IPL. After that, I have the World Cup - which is my dream. I want to get the World Cup, and I want to make sure I keep doing this, what I'm doing right now. Hopefully, we get the IPL trophy and the World Cup," Hardik said.
You can see how he is growing in confidence, and this is a huge boost for India before the World Cup. In-form and confident Hardik Pandya can be India's X-factor in the all-important ODI tournament.
Last Updated 7:04 PM IST