Mumbai: Team India all-rounder Hardik Pandya has credited former India batsman Sachin Tendulkar for playing a crucial role in his performance, saying that the latter’s words of inspiration gave Pandya the self confidence.
Pandya, who made his international debut in January 2016, has made an early impact for India across all formats, scoring one century and five half-centuries across Tests and ODIs, while he has already picked up 49 wickets across Tests, ODIs and T20s.
“When Sachin sir told me that you will play for India. 'If you keep playing like this you will play for India in one and half years'. To be honest, when he told me this I was more than happy and not even thinking of playing for India. I thought if Sachin sir is saying something like this, then at least I have something in me.
"So, it gave me a lot of self-confidence," the 24-year-old, who recently celebrated his birthday, said to NDTV.
"That time I was very happy. It feels good that someone you admire comes and tells you these sort of things. It gives you a lot of confidence, you start believing in yourself. When he said that I was like 'ok, let's work hard now'," he added.
Pandya quit school in ninth standard and decided to switch his focus on playing cricket.
"I didn't leave my studies because of the sport. It's just that I was not good at it. There were many factors, money was a problem and I was not involved in studies.
"But I won't suggest this to the youngsters. When someone has crossed 17-18, I just tell them to study. It's very simple. Cricket is very difficult reason being a degree stays with you. As cricketers we are here right now, we might be somewhere else the next day," stated the Baroda cricketer.
Pandya, who came to limelight with his stint with Mumbai Indians during Indian Premier League 2015, started his cricket career as a leg-spinning all-rounder.
But, it was former Baroda coach N Sanath Kumar who noticed that Pandya could become a fast-bowling all-rounder.
“I stopped bowling leg spin because I got angry. They use to not give me bowling and I use to get angry. So I said I'm not bowling and I'm just going to bat. Then I use to get bored and would go help fast bowlers.
"One day, it was Sanath Kumar from Bangalore, he was our coach, he made Hardik Pandya as an all-rounder. He saw me in the nets and in 15 days I was bowling in the Ranji Trophy, which was surprising,” he stated.
Hardik Pandya will look to continue his good form when Virat Kohli-led Team India face off against Kane Williamson-led New Zealand in the first of the three ODIs at the Wankhede Stadium here on Sunday.