Not being able to bowl regularly due to fitness issues had cost Hardik his place in the Indian team but he made a roaring comeback with the IPL. More recently, he was at his absolute best with bat and ball in the white-ball series in England.
His ability with the bat was never in doubt but he has turned heads with his brilliant bowling performances against England.
The 28-year-old took career-best figures, 4/33 and 4/24, in the T20 and ODI series.
The standout figures in the 50-over format came on Sunday when he bowled at good pace before making a match winning contribution with the bat alongside Rishabh Pant.
Speaking to media post the third ODI, Hardik said to be able to bowl regularly gives him a lot of satisfaction.
“So firstly with my bowling, you know post IPL, after every series, I take maybe four or five days to train because that is re-fuelling for my fitness and just to get fresh. I like to play 100 per cent because then it gives me the opportunity to do all the things which I did today (in the 3rd ODI),” said Hardik.
He could not find the rhythm in the preceding series in Ireland but England brought the best out of him.
“After IPL, I came back to play the South Africa series. I bowled one over and I did not bowl in couple of games. As a bowler for me, it’s very important to keep bowling. So I was not finding the rhythm.
“Even in Ireland when I played, I was not getting the rhythm which I wanted to because I find myself a control bowler. I don’t have much skills you know, get the batter out by opening him up and nipping the ball inside and all that, I play with smartness. I try to outsmart the batter,” he said.
Hardik said the four-wicket burst in the first T20 gave him the much-needed confidence.
“So for me, it’s very important to get my consistency, something which I worked on. I went back to the videos which I saw before and it was more about the feeling so it was just before the first T20 game against England. I generally don’t practice before the game but I just went in and bowled couple of hours with full run up and full effort.
“That’s where I got my rhythm and when obviously that four-wicket haul (against England in T20s) kind of changed everything and gave me my consistency and my confidence to pitch wherever I want to, so that’s where I come into the picture and be effective,” he added.
Hardik also doesn’t see the point in bowling full tilt at all times.
“I think I bowl smart. I only bend my back and bowl quick as possible when required. If you see my couple of games back, I was bowling in 130s because it was not that I was not able to bowl quick.”
“It was more about that situation. I felt that would have been the ideal thing rather than coming and hitting the deck. Today the grounds were big, I wanted them to hit, take on the square leg and fine leg fielder. I fancied my chances,” said Hardik.
After taking four wickets, Hardik and Pant shared a memorable 133-run stand that tilted the third ODI in India’s favour.
“It is always very good to contribute in all departments. I think that has given me a lot of confidence in the past, it adds more layers to my game and to my confidence.
“And Rishabh… his innings was very important for us, the partnership as well and obviously the way he finished, we all know what kind of a talent he has. It is just when it comes out, it is very easy to the eye, and also gives a lot of people…But at the same time, it gives the eyeballs as well… all the kinds of shots he plays,” he said.
Hardik rose to the occasion in Jasprit Bumrah’s absence. Bumrah sat out of the decider due to a niggle.
“I knew that Jasprit was not going to play this game. Obviously, yes, when someone like him (is injured)… he was telling me, ‘you may have to bowl a couple of overs in the death as well’ (and) I said, ‘very big shoes to fill’.
“I had to step up, not at the death, but in making sure that in the middle overs I got the breakthroughs. Whenever things happen to me, the way I planned, it gives confidence,” he added.