Ahead of IPL 2022, many had their eyes on Hardik Pandya as the 28-year-old had been out of action since Team India 2021 T20 World Cup campaign in the United Arab Emirates. He had missed quite a few two-way series for India as the versatile star prepared for his return to IPL 2022.
Dealing with a return issue, over the past few years, Hardik’s return was highly anticipated as a great season would have secured his return to the Team India setup. Hardik not only rose to the occasion with the bat (487 total carries) and won a couple of flurries to also claim eight scalps, he led new franchise Gujarat Titans (GT) to their first title in the 15th season of the league. ‘IPL that just ended. .
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Thus, Hardik has also shown his leadership credentials and is widely praised for his calm and composed captaincy style. However, things weren’t going well for the all-rounder ahead of the 2019 ODI World Cup, when he and KL Rahul got embroiled in a huge controversy for their sexist and racist remarks on a TV show, namely the Koffee With. Karan. Since then, he has made rapid progress in his international career.
Recently, Hardik’s childhood coach recalled his ward’s words after he appeared on a TV show. Speaking to Indian Express, Jitender Singh, his childhood coach, recalled how tense Hardik was after the infamous episode and how he vowed to rise through the ranks once again.
“He hadn’t slept all night, na?” the coach asked another person in the room (in Hardik’s residence). “Tension nahin lena hai (Don’t take tension). You will be back to play for India very soon. Jo ho gaya, voh ho gaya (what’s done is done), no need to worry about it. Come to the stadium tomorrow Reliance. Now smile,” the coach revealed.
“I had reserved a badminton court for us to play. Just to find the taste of competition and the joy of sport in him. I wanted him to sweat. He freed himself, usko ehsaas hua (he realized) that he is a sportsman and that is what he was born for. Not chat shows,” he said.
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Jitender further recalled Hardik’s words after the big controversy. “Coach, you won’t hear anything negative about me after this,” Jitender recalled. “He kept that word, his dad would have been so proud today,” he added.
Hardik will now focus on India’s upcoming home T20I series against South Africa, which will be his return in the blue jersey since last year’s ICC event. The series kicks off on June 9 in New Delhi.
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