Hardik Pandya’s breaking into the white-ball squads of the Indian cricket team in 2016 was a new light in a search for a proper all-rounder. Not only Pandya could smash the ball out of the park, but his efforts with bowling and fielding meant he was here to stay for a long time. Some even likened Pandya to former Indian skipper Kapil Dev. Pandya not only flourished in Team India’s scene, but was a consistent force in the Indian Premier League for Mumbai Indians.
That helped him as well in terms of shaping his game. Pandya found success with MI and was a consistent force. The hard-hitting all-rounder made it to India’s Test side in 2017 and earned a name for himself often coming on as the fourth pacer overseas. He was a constant feature for the side until 2018.
However of late, Pandya has been struggling with issues on and off the field. A shoulder injury saw him miss a lot of cricket for India in recent times and he has also lost his ability to bowl at the moment and there’s no clear timeline as to when he will resume his services with the ball. With him not bowling, it impacted MI in the IPL 2021 season and Team India as well in the ICC T20 World Cup 2021.
Post the T20 World Cup, Pandya was didn’t feature in the recently concluded T20I series against New Zealand at home. Reports have also come in that he is well short of the fitness standards required and could miss the upcoming series against South Africa next month. He is set to spend time at the NCA and be part of a rehab to nurse his shoulder.
Looking at Pandya’s injury woes and recent poor performances, it’s safe to say that he could take a while to be the player he really is. To force his way back into the side could also be a long journey. This also brings us to the issues happening off the field. Pandya is rash and careless. He is often in the news for the wrong things.
Recently, Pandya returned from the UAE and had two watches worth Rs 5 crore get seized by airport customs. According to a report in ANI, Pandya’s watches were seized because it didn’t have a bill. However, Pandya took to social media and clarified the same, saying that he voluntarily declared the items that were purchased lawfully. Earlier this month, Pandya along with Rajeev Shukla and Munaf Patel were accused by a woman of rape. Rehnuma Bhati, who is a close aide of don Dawood Ibrahim, had charged Pandya along with the others for sexual assault.
Back in 2019, Pandya got into trouble alongside KL Rahul for making sexist comments in popular television show Koffee With Karan. Pandya issued an apology after facing backlash and was also called back by BCCI, besides being provisionally suspended. Pandya had boasted about hooking up with several women besides making comments such as he used to see how they move in nightclubs when asked why he doesn’t get to know their names. He also said talent used to work when both Rahul and himself fell for a particular woman.
So why are we highlighting Pandya alongside former cricketer Kambli?
Vinod Kambli and Sachin Tendulkar broke into the scenes and while the former had to see his career get wiped out, the latter became a legend. Kambli saw a premature end to his promising career. It was a sad sight for a player who hit two double-centuries in his first five innings for India in Test cricket. Known as a rash and wild person, Kambli’s personality did the trick against him. He also struggled to continue his form and that too played a part in him vanishing from the scenes. As his cricket career ended, Kambli was no short of controversies. Being called a bully by a foreign neighbour, to not playing bank loans, failing to clear dues in the society he lived, claiming Sachin ignored him several times to his wife slapping people in a mall, the issues gripped him always.
Pandya, who is a father now, needs to get his focus back. Besides improving his fitness, Pandya needs to play and work his way into the team. He also needs to be so careless and give a more responsible picture of himself off the field.