Pandya’s back problem had led to him not bowling a lot in the past two years but he intends to “surprise” everyone during the upcoming Indian Premier League where he would be captaining the CVC-owned Ahmedabad franchise.
“They know where I am (in terms of bowling fitness). It has been communicated to everyone,” Pandya told PTI during an interaction facilitated by the franchise.
It is understood that Pandya has made it clear that he shouldn’t be considered for national selection for the home series against West Indies and Sri Lanka as he’s still working on his bowling workload.
“Hardik the batter and bowler combined sounds much better than Hardik the batter,” he said with an admission that he did contemplate becoming a “pure batsman” before deciding otherwise.
He was asked where he placed in terms of bowling.
“It will be a surprise for everyone,” he said, keeping his cards close to his chest.
But he did admit that it has been challenging not being able to perform as an all-rounder although the criticism that came his way during the T20 World Cup didn’t bother him much.
“It’s been challenging (not being able to bowl) and I have always given (contributed) in three areas of the game.
“But when I had decided that I wanted to only bat, I just wanted to spend some time on the ground and it has been challenging, yes,” he admitted.
Constructive criticism is something that he is looking forward to.
“Healthy criticism is always good, but criticism generally doesn’t bother me as I know what I’m doing. I know how much hard yards I have put in. I have always worked hard for the processes and not the result. Results take care of itself when you put in genuine hardwork.”
‘Art of Captaincy’: Be around your player in rough times
Captaincy is a pretty new thing for Pandya as he had done that only once at U-16 level for Baroda which is chalk and cheese in terms of leadership at this level.
There is no “manual” for his captaincy but he does have a philosophy which is straight out of Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s leadership textbook.
“I will give an example — when someone is on a high and everything is falling in place, he genuinely does not need anyone, he’s at that point in good space and does not need anyone, I have always believed that when someone is having a bad day, that’s when he needs you,” he said, something that his ‘Guru’ Dhoni has always followed as a leader.
“My philosophy is that if someone is doing well, as a captain, I will not bother him but when he is down, as a person I will be available if he needs me to hold his hand. That’s the motto I would like to follow. For anyone who needs me, I will always be there.”
Learnings from Kohli, Dhoni and Rohit
Pandya knows exactly what he would like to imbibe from the three captains he has played under — Dhoni, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma.
(Photo by Surjeet Yadav/Getty Images)
“From Virat, I will pick his aggression and passion, his energy which is tremendous. From Mahi bhai it’s the composure, calmness, remaining the same in every situation, trying to see what new things he can add.
“…and from Rohit, I would pick the freedom as he lets the player decide what he wants to do. These three qualities if I can pick up, it will be a very good combination.”
For Ahmedabad, he wants players who can win “situations”
Having earlier been a part of IPL‘s most successful franchise Mumbai Indians, Pandya knows what’s the perfect recipe for a good T20 team.
“For me, its about players who can play as per situations. It doesn’t matter how much firework you have, it’s all about situations and picking the right moments and you win,” he said in almost similar views as Dhoni.
“When you finish the game, you know who is the winner but there are small moments you have to win in T20 games and for us that’s more important. We are focussed on making sure that we win those small battles — maybe doing well in the 14th over or 16th over, just an example,” he said.
No plans to promote himself for Ahmedabad
As captain, he needs to think about the whole team and strategise accordingly but unless situation demands, Pandya indicated that his preference would be to remain as a slog-over enforcer.
“I have not made any plan regarding that. If the situation demands, I will go early, or I will stay back and make sure I look after the back-end,” he said.
IPL is good start for captaincy but don’t look for India captaincy
Leading a franchise in a demanding tournament like IPL is a good start for a new captain but one can’t go into a tournament thinking about India captaincy, said the Baroda all-rounder.
“It’s a good start as IPL gives the platform to test myself in a new role as pressure is very similar. Not saying you are expected to win but everyone wants to win.
“It’s a right step to go ahead and eventually get captaincy for your country but you don’t look for that. If it’s suppose to come it will come.”