Hardik Pandya, a Baroda native, burst onto the scene for the Mumbai Indians in the 2015 IPL. We had no idea that the tall, lanky lower middle-order hitter would go on to play a pivotal role in their second championship victory in the same year. He remained with the team until the end of the 2021 season when the franchise and the player parted ways.
The new franchise, Gujarat Titans, signed him and gave him the captaincy baton, which he used to lead the team to its maiden IPL triumph. Hardik Pandya’s ability to hit the cup in his first IPL stint as captain was never surprising, as he has always been a great contributor. He has had an enormous impact on the success of his former franchise and has frequently contributed to match-winning efforts.
He won four trophies during his stint with the Mumbai Indians, and the franchise stuck with him and incorporated him into their main core. He was released before the 2022 mega auction, and Gujarat Titans signed him to a contract as captain for the recently ended season. In these eight seasons, he has played 107 matches and scored a total of 1963 runs at an average of 30, picking 50 wickets.
Top five performances of Hardik Pandya in the IPL
5. Carnage at the Eden Gardens
91 (34) & 1/31 vs Kolkata Knight Riders in 2019
On that particular day, while the Mumbai Indians were hit by the ‘Russel storm,’ some fireworks were launched at Eden Gardens. After being called into bat by Rohit Sharma, the Kolkata Knight Riders put up a mammoth total of 232 owing to Andre Russel’s muscles, who blasted a 40-ball 80 to lead his side to a total of 232.
The Rohit Sharma-led men didn’t get off to the best of starts, as they were reeling at 58 at four at one point. Hardik Pandya into the fray. With the required run rate increasing and him running out of partners, he took matters into his own hands and smashed the KKR bowling attack.
He got his fifty off just 17 balls, including seven sixes and a four. There was little encouragement from his teammates, but Hardik persisted, and the score appeared to be within reach at one point. He was caught off the last delivery of the 18th over for 91 off 34 balls as the Mumbai Indians finished 34 runs short. Despite the fact that it came in a losing cause, this performance will live on in everyone’s mind.
4. The first look of Hardik, the batter
61 (31)* vs KKR in 2015.
He had a dismal start against the Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2015, as both Virat Kohli and ABD batted the Indians out of the game with centuries. Pandya’s performance read 51 runs conceded in three overs and 8 runs scored on four deliveries.
In the same season, Hardik stood tall and played a blinder of an innings to lead the team to a total of 171 despite a sluggish start from the top order. With eight overs to spare, Pandya and Pollard stitched together a 92-run partnership, with Hardik scoring the bulk of the runs. Pollard, despite his experience, was battling to put bat to ball, but Hardik’s knock disguised Polly’s trouble.
He played 31 balls, scoring 61, an innings that featured 8 fours and two sixes. That was his first IPL fifty as the Mumbai Indians had a total to defend. Kieron Pollard made amends for his lackluster batting by bowling an over to remember, conceding only six runs and grabbing Umesh Yadav’s wicket when 12 runs were needed off the last over. That victory secured a playoff spot as Hardik was named player of the match for the second time that season.
3. Pandya: The finisher
21 (8)* vs Chennai Super Kings in 2015.
The two heavyweights squared off in one of the most heated rivalries in existence in Chennai’s MA Chidambaram stadium. CSK skipper MS Dhoni won the toss and chose to bat first, putting on a relatively challenging score on that rank-turner.
A target of 159 appeared easy for the Mumbai Indians, who needed to win their remaining games to stay in the title race. After a quick start in the first ten overs, they were reduced to 86 for three in 12 overs after losing three wickets in a sequence. The spinners pulled it back, and their captain, Rohit Sharma, was having problems connecting with the ball. With 30 needed off the final two overs, Hardik Pandya was put in to lead his team to victory.
In the 19th over, Pawan Negi was given the ball, and Hardik Pandya took advantage of the situation and hammered three lusty hits. The equation was reduced to 5 off the final over, and Ambati Rayudu took care of business, marking their fifth consecutive win of the season and Hardik’s debut as a finisher. At a strike rate of almost 250, his 8-ball 21 featured those three crucial sixes. He had three catches earlier that day, indicating that he was going to have a fantastic game in the first half.
2. Captain’s Performance
87 (52)* & 1/18 vs Rajasthan Royals in 2022.
As captain of the Gujarat Titans, Hardik Pandya took on a new persona, becoming a less animated and more sensible version of himself. Who was always flamboyant and intense, became calmer, and his new aura was evident in his first season as captain.
Hardik batted at number four throughout the tournament and took on the task of remaining until the end. He had his best-ever season, scoring 487 runs at an average of 44, including four half-centuries. In a league encounter at the D.Y Patil stadium, his best score came against the runners-up of the previous season’s finals, Rajasthan Royals.
The Gujarat Titans didn’t get off to a strong start after being put in to bat, as they lost their top order within the first seven overs. The skipper was tasked with staying till the end alongside rookie Abhinav Manohar, and the two stitched a game-defining 86-run partnership before Abhinav was sent back by Yuzi Chahal.
Hardik kept on to his horses and accelerated at the proper time, bringing all of his knowledge to the game. He struck fifty off 33 balls and 37 off his final 19 balls to help Gujarat Titans reach 192. In his innings, he hit eight fours and four sixes. The Titans won handily by 37 runs, with Hardik contributing a wicket to bring the game to a close.
1. ‘The Hardik Pandya final’
The IPL final in 2022 will be known as the ‘Hardik Pandya final.’ Except for officiating, he was involved in every aspect of the game.
Sanju won the toss and chose to bat first, and they had the tournament’s leading run-scorer, Jos Buttler, on their side. The Royals got off to a rocky start, scoring 44 in the powerplay. To assert control over the game, the captain introduced himself to the assault and removed his opposite number, Sanju Samson. Rashid Khan dismissed the next batter, Padikkal, with the final ball of the 12th over.
Thanks to Hardik’s street smarts, the following delivery saw the back of the man who was in red hot rhythm, Jos Buttler. His most powerful weapon, the back of a length, was delivered to outwit Jos and Gujarat, who were on their way to hauling the Royals off. Hardik did not stop there, as he removed the lone recognized hitter, Shimron Hetmyer, in his final over by pocketing a return catch and wheeling away in triumph. He finished with his best IPL figures of 3 for 17 as the Royals only managed 130 in their 20 overs.
The Rajasthan Royals showed tenacity by removing Matthew Wade and Wriddhiman Saha in the first powerplay to put them on the back burner. The captain, who had a fantastic first half, did not slow down and continued to build on the momentum established by the opener, Shubman Gill. The Titans were down 23 for the loss of two, but they didn’t have to worry about keeping up with the run tempo.
The captain and Gill did not take any unnecessary risks while building their innings. At the end of the mandatory powerplay, the Titans were 31 and required exactly 100 of their remaining 14 overs. Pandya continued his excellent form, and the pair put on a third-wicket stand of 50 in just 43 balls. The tournament’s leading wicket-taker got the best of skipper Hardik Pandya, who was sent back when the work was virtually done.
Hardik relieved Gill’s pressure by scoring 34 off 30 with three boundaries and a maximum. The Titans won the championship after Hardik was named player of the match for his all-around performance in the finals.
Hardik Pandya’s strong self-belief is what distinguishes him from other cricketers. The flamboyant Baroda all-rounder thrives under pressure and never lets it impair his game.
Hardik Pandya is one of the best IPL players, having won five trophies with two different franchises and making numerous match-winning contributions. He is currently in line to captain the Indian side in the shortest format, and he well deserves it following a flawless IPL season.
1. Why did Mumbai let go of Hardik?
Hardik had a quiet season in 2021, where the franchise had a disarray outing. He was released ahead of the 2022 IPL mega auction as there were constraints on the retention rules leading up to the auction.
2. Is Hardik Pandya better than Krunal Pandya?
Hardik Pandya has had more winning contributions than Krunal, and we could say he’s better purely based on his achievements.
3. Can Hardik Pandya lead the Indian team?
Yes. His philosophy of having a strong core of all-rounders could aid the team massively and might bring success too.
4. Is he a big match player?
Hardik is certainly the best ‘big game player’ among the current lot. His 78 against Pakistan in the 2017 Champions trophy finals and consistent game-changing knocks when it mattered the most make him a big game player.