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Hardik Pandya: From being wrongly targeted during IPL 2024 to silencing critics in T20 WC 2024 Final

Hardik Pandya silenced his critics with powerful performances in T20 World Cup 2024. Hardik Pandya scored 144 runs at a strike-rate of 151.57 and took 11 wickets from 8 games for India.

Hardik Pandya: From being wrongly targeted during IPL 2024 to silencing critics in T20 World Cup 2024 Final | Walking Wicket (Source_ ©Twitter_X)
Hardik Pandya silenced critics in T20 World Cup 2024 (Source: ©Twitter/X)

“People throw stones at you and you convert them into milestones,” aptly quoted by the legendary cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, fits the bill for Hardik Pandya. The India all-rounder has scripted his redemption story for ages. A journey of a boy with a ‘mamba’ mentality from Baroda to Barbados, who dreamt of playing for India, showcased his story of self-belief and confidence, peaking at the right time amidst the growing animosity for him. From being villain-ised in IPL 2024 to being an immortal hero in the T20 World Cup, 2024, Hardik had a tumultuous roller coaster ride in these 4 months of his life.  

An underwhelming IPL season 

Hardik Pandya was crucified and hated to minimal levels of humanity as soon as he was announced the new captain of the Mumbai Indians (MI). Throughout the IPL, he had to endure the boos, incessant trolling on social media and play against the berserk fans and home crowd who wanted him to lose. The Wankhede stadium echoed with rants and abuses for the star all-rounder who was earlier celebrated as one of the greatest match-winners of MI.

Hardik came off an abhorrent IPL 2024 season where his team finished at the bottom of the points table. He had a forgettable below par 2024 season with only 216 runs in 14 innings at an underwhelming average of 18. His bowling also took a heavy dent as he was hit for hefty runs at 10.75’s economy rate with only 11 wickets under his belt. Neither could he garner the support of MI fans nor could he inspire the strong Indian MI core to take them past the playoffs hurdle.

T20 World Cup 2024: Hardik’s shot at redemption 

The vice-captain of Team India stepped into the World Cup with a heavy baggage of angst and constant scrutiny. But, he silenced his haters and critics on the back of an impressive T20 World Cup campaign. Hardik Pandya scored 144 runs at a strike-rate of 151.57 in six innings across the 8 matches, including a half-century. He scalped 11 wickets in 8 matches with best figures of 3/20, coming in the final at an economy rate of 7.64. 

He was adjudged the Player of the Match in the Super Eight clash against Bangladesh where he scored 50 off 27 balls and claimed the important wicket of Litton Das. His cameos at the end comprising scores of 27*(17) and 23(13) against Australia and England, respectively, in the knockout matches, proved handy to get the team over the line.

While chasing the highest team total posted in T20 World Cup finals, South Africa were almost cruising towards the win and needed just 26 runs from 24 balls. Hardik came in to bowl the 17th over and conceded only 4 runs, picking the prized wicket of Heinrich Klaasen. He was entrusted with the responsibility to bowl the last over when India had to defend 16 runs.  He took the crucial wickets of David Miller and Kagiso Rabada, as South Africa could only score 8 runs in the final over. It was a befitting reply by Hardik, who had come in clutch just at the right time. 

The way he shed tears of joy and relief after getting the job done for India exhibited what this win meant to him. He bowled like a champion under the enormous pressure of 1.4 billion hopes. A journey of conversion from boos, trolls and hatred to love, respect and immortality is what defines the tough character of Hardik Pandya. He signed off from the T20 World Cup with style and a cold shrug celebration.

T20 World Cup 2024_ Hardik Pandya has taken 7 wickets in WC so far _ Walking Wicket (Source_ ©BCCI_X)
Hardik Pandya took 3-20 against South Africa in final (Source: ©BCCI/X)
‘Even difficult times, they don’t last forever’, Hardik Pandya

“It’s very emotional, something was not clicking, but this was something the whole nation wanted. Especially for me, after six months, I haven’t spoken a word, things have been unfair, but I knew there’d be a time I could shine. An opportunity like this makes it all the more special. I believe in grace. A lot was said by people who don’t know even know me one percent as a person. People have spoken, no issues but I have always believed in life that you never respond with words, circumstances can respond. Even difficult times, they don’t last forever. It is important to be graceful, whether you win or lose,” Pandya said on a live broadcast after the match.

Since Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja have announced their retirement from T20Is, Hardik Pandya now becomes the most experienced player in the T20 format for India along with Jasprit Bumrah. He served as the deputy captain under Rohit Sharma. With departure of Rohit, he could be given the charge to lead India in T20Is. Also, Hardik’s successful captaincy stint with Gujarat Titans (GT) in the IPL, (champions and runners up in 2022 and 2023, respectively) makes him the frontrunner for job.


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