Swearing by living life king size, Hardik Pandya's beliefs and ideology find expression in his brutal hitting in the middle order and brisk seam bowling. Ever since making his international debut in 2016, Pandya has established his reputation as one of the most effective allrounders in modern-day cricket.
A vital cog in the Indian line-up, Pandya's exploits on the field also earned him comparisons with the great Kapil Dev, as many labelled him as the country's next big allrounder. But, for a cricketer who was busy rising through the ranks, Pandya came across his worst nightmare earlier this month when his demeanour on a popular chat show sparked nationwide outrage.
There was a lot of backlash, filled with expletives, on social media. Fans and former cricketers all combined in slamming the youngster for his remarks on the chat show. Then, there was a suspension from the Board of Cricket for Control in India (BCCI) that forced him to return from Australia where his teammates were busy etching their name in the history books.
Falling from grace, Pandya was disappointed, sad and alone. Pandya was cornered and left to face the demons on his own as he shut himself at home. While there is no doubt that it was Pandya's own doing, but, let's be honest, people have committed worse crimes (if his is one) than him. He's just 25 and his remarks, arguably, shouldn't overshadow his capabilities, especially after being punished enough.
With his back against the wall, Pandya had a sigh of relief after the Indian cricket board ended his suspension and asked him to join the team in New Zealand. But, none really cared as Pandya's comments about women still echoed on the social media with the fans still not ready to move on from the controversy.
Taking the field at the Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui, Pandya had a point to make. He seemed possessed to right his wrong, win back his fans and remind everyone how crucial he is for this Indian team. When you're pushed back against the wall, the only way is forward. And, that's exactly how Pandya saw his return to the Indian team in the 3rd ODI against New Zealand.
Unfazed by the criticism levelled against him, the Baroda cricketer delivered impressive figures of 2-45 in his bowling spell and choked the run flow during the middle overs. He bowled 37 dot balls, more than any of his teammates, and conceded just three boundaries as India romped their way to a seven-wicket win that also sealed the five-match series in their favour.
If his bowling performance impressed everyone, Pandya's determination to make a strong return was also in full display in his fielding efforts during the game. In fact, the young gun helped his teammate Yuzvendra Chahal in getting a wicket on the back of a sensational catch.
Hardik pandya come back super catch pic.twitter.com/Bl83rckpO8— Kanai Kumar (@KanaiKumar9) January 28, 2019
In the 17th over of New Zealand's innings, skipper Kane Williamson chipped down the track to hit Chahal's delivery towards deep midwicket. While Williamson was looking to whip the ball off his pads through to the boundary ropes, an alert Pandya - who was fielding at midwicket - produced an acrobatic effort, diving to his left and pulling off an absolute blinder, to send the opposition captain packing.
That was a fielder's wicket, absolutely stunning catch from Hardik Pandya. #NZvInd— Mohammad Kaif (@MohammadKaif) January 28, 2019
Though he didn't get a chance to showcase his power-hitting with the willow, Pandya, still, had his effect on the game - thanks to his majestic bowling and electric fielding. After enduring all the hate lately, Pandya, with a positive body language, looked determined to make the most of the opportunity and eager to contribute to his team's requirements.