Hardik Pandya's Rags to Riches Story

How the Indian Team lost against Pakistan in the ICC Champions Trophy finals is something that most of us want to forget now. The team was defeated by players from the neighboring country in all the departments. And while Bhuvneshwar Kumar's spell was the takeaway from the Indian bowling department, it was Hardik Panday's ballistic 76 runs out of 43 balls that gave us a reason to hope for a twist in the game.
But alas, the twist didn't happen!

However, what did happen was that the true mettle of Pandya took the centre stage. It was a game where big guns like Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and MS Dhoni had failed to perform and Panday's innings ensured that everyone took notice of this next big thing in international cricket.
The young lad was already a big name in the IPLs but his stint on Sunday gave a billion people a hope that he might be the potential finisher after MS Dhoni that the team is looking for. With every shot he struck off his bat, he repaid selectors' faith in him. And his passion for the game made sure that the scoreboard keeps rotating.

But before anyone could, Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar had already predicted Pandya's future.
During an episode of What the Duck season 2 recently, the Baroda cricketer opened up about how Sachin had once asked him to meet him in person as he wanted to tell him something.
I hadn’t made my debut then and was in Hyderabad for a do-or-die clash and we were all a bit tense. He (Tendulkar) walked up to me and suddenly said, ‘Meet me later, I need to tell you something’.

Pandya recalled that while he failed to meet the legend in Hyderabad, he caught up with him in Mumbai.
He started by appreciating me for the way I was playing, before stating ‘I shouldn’t be telling you this but the way you’re playing and the potential you have in yourself, you should be playing for India in a year or one-and-a-half.’ I called up (brother) Krunal and told him about the incident. To my family members, it was more like it didn’t even matter if I would play for India in future. That Sachin sir had told me this was enough for them. In fact, it took me around just five-six months before I made my international debut.

Opening up about his equation with his cricketer brother, Pandya said that he feels a certain happiness when he sees his brother after a long tour.

Everything in my life is related to him. We have common friends; in fact, all of his (Krunal's) friends have become my friends. ... I am hard to manage, plenty of people know that. And, my brother takes care of me. If I do something wrong, he (Krunal) will correct me. We have a wonderful relationship because we tell each other what is right and what is wrong. Even when one of us isn't playing, we support each other.

The 23-year-old got emotional while speaking about his struggles and revealed that when his family moved from Surat to Vadodara, his father had to indulge himself in odd jobs to support his sons' cricket training. The situation got tougher when he suffered multiple heart attacks, witnessing the worst-ever financial crisis in the family.
The cricketer brothers had to play in villages to earn some extra bucks and even saw times when they had to spend the entire day at the grounds with a single meal of noodles. The duo had earned 40,000 one year which had come down to 24,000 after tax and monthly instalment deductions. It was this phase that made a man out of the boy. The family had to survive in less than 2,000 for every month.
In fact, it was during this phase only that the Pandya brothers started to play in multiple local tournaments to earn some extra bucks on the side.

Hardik recalled on the show that he and his brother would often ask questions to the Almighty, "Why us? Why are we the only ones having problems for 2-3 years? What have we done to be in this situation?"
But not only did the brothers share the same pain, they had a common dream too - to play for the country. While Hardik is now an upcoming superstar of the team, the senior one is yet to make his international debut. Both of them have shown exceptional performance in the IPL and Hardik's meteoric rise in international cricket only goes on to show how talent finds itself in the limelight after all.

His life is an inspiration to everyone who is fighting hard to rise and probably a juicier story than Dhoni's. A biopic in the coming years maybe?

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