Team India all-rounder Hardik Pandya is sweating it out for the upcoming home series against South Africa that kick-starts on September 15. Hardik was seen working hard in the nets, preparing to start afresh after a two-month long break. Post a draining net session, the youngster, in an exclusive interview with IANS, said that the team had “kind of” recovered from the heartbreaking semi-final loss against New Zealand in the 2019 World Cup. They’re now looking forward and aiming to perform well in the 2020 T20 World Cup, scheduled to take place in Australia.
“It was difficult and we all felt the same pain, but life moves on. I would have been more upset if we as a team hadn’t done justice to our performance. I think as a team we played as champions and except for those 30 minutes, I thought we played outstandingly and everyone was contributing and looking to excel. It is just how it is at the knockout stage. We have kind of moved on and we want to focus on the next World Cup (WT20) and win that,” the right-hander revealed.
India will play a three-match T20I series against the Proteas, followed by a three-Test series.
When asked if he had any particular plan-of-action before the series, Pandya said he only focused on “preparing well.”
“To be honest, I don’t keep goals because I let something out of the box happen. I just focus on preparing well and focus on the areas I wish to work on. I think that magical things do happen. So, I let my game speak and go with the situation. You never know when my team is down and I might stand up and do something special. I focus on that. South Africa is a good team and a good series will give us momentum in T20s,” he said with a smile.
Hardik Pandya was rested for the entire tour of the West Indies after a long and hectic World Cup. The 25-year-old mentioned that he worked on his fitness and towards improving his game during the break.
“It was important for me (the break) as the IPL was long and then the World Cup followed and I had a good run in both the tournaments. So, I was looking to give it my best and that required my body to take some rest as precaution is better than cure and that is when the call was taken by the team management that I come back fully fit for the South Africa series.”
“Neither the team management nor I wish that I get injured. The rest has helped me a lot and my fitness has gone to the next level. I started doing pilates and that has helped me a lot. This isn’t something very usual between cricketers. So, that is why I wanted to see how it works and it has worked really well. This last one month, I trained twice a day. It was important that I try something new to improve my back. It was important for me and my game to take this break,” he added.
Hardik Pandya had notched up 226 runs at an average of 32.28 in the World Cup. Head coach Ravi Shastri and captain Virat Kohli hailed him as the X-factor in a team full of young guns.
“When someone like your captain and coach backs you, the confidence increases and you look to express yourself and that brings out the best in you. I have always made sure that I understand the situation and then enjoy myself. Enjoying the game decreases the pressure. I have confidence in myself so there is no question of pressure.”
“The captain and coach expect me to do well and that gives me confidence because that means I have done something nice in my short career. It is always important to go out and enjoy yourself because at the end of the day it is a sport and I love the sport,” Pandya concluded.