Chennai, May 9: One more young Indian player made headlines in the Indian Premier League 2015 (IPL 8) last night at MA Chidambaram Stadium.
IPL which is a platform for youngsters to showcase their limited overs' skills, has helped many. Another name which was added to the growing list is Hardik Pandya of Mumbai Indians (MI). Last week it was Royal Challengers Bangalore's (RCB) 17-year-old batsman Sarfaraz Khan.
Pandya, the 21-year-old right-hander, starred with the bat, smashing a match-winning 8-ball 21 not out. His 3 sixes off Pawan Negi in the 19th over won the game for MI against Chennai Super Kings (CSK) on Friday night. Pandya had also taken 3 catches earlier and this all-round effort got him the Man-of-the-match award.
"I have actually got quite close to him (Hardik Pandya) since I started in this job. That kid is fearless and has lots of very good skills," Ponting told IPL's official website.
"We haven't seen his bowling much yet but it is particularly good. We saw some of his hitting prowess tonight and even in the game against RCB where he took 16-odd in the last over.
"He is going to be a very good cricketer going forward and is someone I am excited to continue to work with. Just to see the young guys here and their passion and just how fearless they are to take on any situation they are faced with, is amazing. It is a great attitude to have," the former Australian captain added.
Pandya, who plays for Baroda, was bought by MI for Rs 10 lakh in this year's players auction. So far he has played 4 IPL matches for MI.
Former India opening batsman Aakash Chopra was impressed with Pandya's strength. "Three sixes without coming out of the crease...Hardik Pandya has got some strength. Negi over Mohit for the 19th was always a tricky option," Chopra wrote on his Twitter page.
Three sixes without coming out of the crease...Hardik Pandya has got some strength. Negi over Mohit for the 19th was always a tricky option.
Three sixes without coming out of the crease...Hardik Pandya has got some strength. Negi over Mohit for the 19th was always a tricky option.— Aakash Chopra (@cricketaakash) May 8, 2015
After his knock last night, Pandya said he can hit the ball very hard. "I was batting very well in the nets. It's good they (team management) have faith on me. I can hit the ball very hard. It was the most emotion I have gone through. I had to target the straight boundary, because side boundaries are slightly long. Ball was always coming to me in the field. This is the best opportunity for me," he said after the match.
- Full name: Hardik Himanshu Pandya
- Right-hand batsman, Right-arm medium-fast
- Plays for: Baroda
- Date of birth: 11 October, 1993
- Age: 21 years
- First-class matches: 6 (Debut - Vs Madhya Pradesh, November, 2013)
- IPL matches: 4 (Debut - Vs RCB, 19 April 2015 in Bengaluru)
- Bought for Rs 10 lakh at IPL 2015 players auction
- List A (50 overs): 4
- Twenty20s: 23
- Centuries: 0
- Fifties: 5 (Across all formats)
- Highest score: 90, in first-class cricket