MS Dhoni told me I’ll be in the World Cup squad after 3 matches: Hardik Pandya recalls his early days with the Indian team

Star India’s versatile Hardik Pandya is ready to return to the Indian team after spending a long time on the sidelines due to recovering from a back injury. Hardik was absolutely fantastic as captain and player for Gujarat Titans (GT) in the recently concluded Indian Premier League (IPL) 2022 as he led his side to their maiden title in their debut season in the competition.

Hardik had opted for a break from all forms of cricket following the conclusion of the T20 World Cup 2021 last year to focus on fully recovering from his back problem. He ended up missing a number of important series for the Indian team before returning to action in IPL 2022. While there were doubts whether he would manage to be on top of his game after his return, Hardik avoided his criticism in style.

He is now set to return to the Indian squad for the upcoming T20I series against South Africa and will look to continue his fine form with bat and ball. Before the start of the five-game T20I run, Hardik recalled an interesting anecdote from his early days with the Indian team.

Hardik had made his debut for Team India in a T20I against Australia in January 2016 after impressing for Mumbai Indians in the IPL. Hardik revealed that he got the full support of then-captain MS Dhoni on his debut for the Indian team even though he didn’t play well in his very first part of the game .

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Recalling his debut, Hardik said he thought his first might be the last of his career, but Dhoni trusted him and helped him bounce back. Hardik revealed that Dhoni secured him a place in India’s squad for the 2016 T20 World Cup after seeing him in his first three games for India.

“When I joined the Indian team, I saw guys I had seen growing up – Suresh Raina, Harbhajan Singh, Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli, Ashish Nehra. Even before I played for the India, they were the stars. For me, when I went there, it was something big,” Hardik told the SGTV podcast.

“So obviously the kind of debut I had – I think I’m the first cricketer to make 21 runs in his first game – I really felt like it was okay, maybe it was- be my last game.But I was very lucky and blessed to play under Mahi bhai who showed a lot of confidence in us which helped us to reach where we were.

“Right after the third game of my international career, Mahi bhai told me that you will be in the World Cup squad. So for me, playing the World Cup or learning to know it in the third game, I just found out.” I didn’t even knock in that game, but he assured me that you spoke. Yeah, it was just a dream come true,” he added.

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Hardik has since become a regular in all Indian team formats and is almost indispensable for the Men in Blue in white ball cricket. The versatile star has contested 11 Tests, 63 ODIs and 54 T20Is in his international career so far, amassing 532, 1286 and 553 runs in the three formats respectively. He also grabbed 116 wickets in all three formats for India.

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Post expires at 5:28pm on Thursday June 16th, 2022

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