Hardik pandya
Indian all-rounder Hardik Pandya celebrates one of his three wickets with Virat Kohli during the DP World Asia Cup match against Pakistan at Dubai International Stadium on Sunday. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: Life has come a full circle for Hardik Pandya and the talented Indian all-rounder is now in a pretty good space mentally after a back injury that derailed his career during the previous edition of the Asia Cup in UAE. The all-rounder capped his return with three crucial wickets in his four-over spell and followed it up with an unbeaten 33 to guide India to five-wicket win over Pakistan in the DP World Asia Cup Twenty20 at the Dubai International Stadium.

“It has never been the case that I wouldn’t want to show what I have, but it is about being in a peaceful place and performing. It is never about proving a point. More often than not, if I do that it will help my team,” Pandya said before the start of the blockbuster clash between India and Pakistan at the Dubai International Stadium on Sunday.

Respect and value

“I have been in and out of the team, but to see the respect and value they have given me is incredible. That helps me perform better. The kind of mindset we are coming from, the players are much more relaxed.”

It was against Pakistan that Pandya first picked up the back injury when he was stretchered off the field. Recalling the day, Pandya said he thought his career was over. “I genuinely thought that my career is over because I’d never seen anyone being stretchered off.

But the gutsy all-rounder slowly but steadily started the recovery process and now he is a key to India’s fortunes as he brings variation and stability to the composition of the team.

Ready for challenges

Pandya once again showed the selectors and the team management that he is ready for the challenges by leading Gujarat Titans to their first Indian Premier League title in 2002, excelling with the bat, ball and his leadership skills.

The all-rounder credited the current team management for a very relaxed atmosphere on the side.

“They don’t want to feel the pressure of playing for India, they just want to express themselves. Credit to the management for making this team much more secure than any team I have ever played with in the past.”