In an interview to Cricbuzz, Hardik Pandya talked to Harsha Bhogle about the major influence that former Australian captain and Mumbai Indians coach Ricky Ponting has had during his initial years of the IPL.
Hardik was bought by the Mumbai based franchise for a base price of 10 lakhs in 2015. Prior to that, in a domestic T20 match between Baroda and Mumbai, against a bowling attack that included Zaheer Khan, Hardik scored a quick-fire 82. The knock was watched by Mumbai Indians’ scout John Wright, who recommended Hardik’s name to Akash Ambani and Nita Ambani, who were also present at the Reliance Stadium. That prompted his inclusion into the Mumbai Indians squad.
Hardik spoke highly about his former Mumbai Indians coach, saying, “Ricky Ponting was someone who looked after me the best. He looked after me like a child. I used to feel like he was my father figure there. Ricky taught me so many things, he taught me situations, he taught me mindset, how strong you should be. As a new boy in 2015, I used to sit next to the hoardings. Ricky used to sit down with me and speak about the game. (With all these conversations) I started learning quickly.”
Hardik Pandya also went on to talk about his other Mumbai Indians teammates. Kieron Pollard, the West Indian all rounder, was one of the senior players in the Mumbai Indians team whose game, according to the Baroda born all rounder, resembled his very closely. Hardik, who developed a good bond with Pollard, called the West Indian his ‘brother’.
Hardik said, “We have such beautiful relations, our families are in touch. We talk despite all the time differences in the West Indies, we make sure we talk at least once in a month. I look up to him as my senior, my role model.”
“I never had one specific role model. I always wanted to learn from the best, different things from different people, and I wanted to combine that in my game, Mahi bhai’s calmness, Virat’s hunger. From 2015, when I made it to the IPL, I always wanted to learn from people. That’s when I realised that Polly is someone who relates to my game.”
Hardik then went on to share his experience of sharing a dressing room with a then up and coming Jasprit Bumrah. He said, “Jassi is a very different character. He’s calm, but he’s someone who likes to be left alone. If he has to talk to someone then he’ll initiate the conversation. I can never be like him even if I try. He’s knowledgeable, well-spoken, thinking 20 times before speaking. But he’s someone who I enjoy being with. We have got success together and have genuinely shared success.”