IPL 2019: Can Hardik Pandya drive Mumbai Indians to glory?

Cricket May 3, 2019
Hardik Pandya leaps in joy after taking Mumbai Indians to the playoffs. Image: BCCI

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IPL 2019: Can Hardik Pandya drive Mumbai Indians to glory?

Hardik Pandya is like friction, a necessary evil. He allows you to form an opinion and a shed of doubt, both at the same time. He is known for exploits both on and off the field. Off the field, he may have unintentionally gotten into trouble for saying something he should not have to a Bollywood director who makes a living feeding on grandeur and controversies.

It may not have been a great episode for the Baroda boy, but it did change him. Pandya continues to hit sixes, but there is an intent in the swagger he carries. He is no more getting into trouble ever again because he is the trouble for the opposition.

Ever since his infamous interview on Koffee with Karan which landed him a bit of soup and got him suspended for few matches, Pandya has come back strong. Every boundary hit, every six scorched over the fence, every run stopped on the field, and every wicket taken has been a testament to the fact that Hardik Pandya has attempted to redeem himself on the very platform which gave him everything, that is cricket. Hardik Pandya no doubt has been the force that has driven the Mumbai Indians. The team is currently placed second on the points table with an impressive net run rate and have made playoffs and is a serious contender to win the IPL title for the fourth time.

Pandya has been on fire this season. Image: Hardik Pandya/Twitter
                                              Pandya has been on fire this season. Image: Hardik Pandya/Twitter

How has Hardik Pandya contributed to the success of Mumbai Indians?

Hardik Pandya has been an integral part of the Mumbai-based team. His big hitting abilities have turned many matches in the favor of Mumbai Indians. For example, the invaluable 25 runs of mere 8 balls against Chennai Super Kings allowed Mumbai Indians to post a competitive total of 170 after they had started slow on a sluggish pitch. Chennai Super Kings could never recover from the Pandya onslaught and could score only 133 runs in their 20 overs where Hardik Pandya took 3 wickets giving away only 20 runs summarising a perfect all-round performance.

Hardik Pandya also played stellar cameos which may not have resulted in his team winning but was enough for Mumbai Indians to fight and take the game close. His 31 runs of 19 balls against Kings XI Punjab and 28 runs of 11 balls against Rajasthan Royals helped Mumbai Indians fight only to lose the game closely. However, the one performance by Hardik Pandya which may not have helped his team get over the finishing line but was enough to show how integral he has been for Mumbai Indians was his 91 runs off 34 balls against Kolkata Knight Riders. The innings was special for various reasons.

Chasing a daunting total of 233 at Eden Gardens, Mumbai Indians were almost out of the game when they lost some quick wickets. However, Pandya was not yet ready to give up and what he did after that was a show of character and grit. He hit 9 sixes and 6 boundaries with a strike rate of almost 268 and almost threatened to take away the game. What made it even more special that he continued hitting the big shots despite battling cramps and the run rate shooting up to 18 runs per over.

The maths did not matter to him. The helicopter shot made an appearance and everything he touched disappeared. Pandya has scored 355 runs in 12 matches at an average of 50.71 and a strike rate of 198.32 in the IPL 2019. Without his presence, it is safe to assume that Mumbai Indians would not have been in the top 4. It is thus, fitting to see that it was Hardik who hit the six against Sunrisers Hyderabad in the super-over on the 2nd of May to take Mumbai Indians to the playoffs this season, once and for all.

Pandya's form also bodes well for India in the World Cup. Image: AFP
                               Pandya’s form also bodes well for India in the World Cup. Image: AFP

What does Hardik Pandya’s form mean for Mumbai Indians and India?

Hardik Pandya’s form augurs well for Mumbai Indian’s and India’s success in general. Pandya has done well as a bowler too. He has already taken 10 wickets at an average of 33.40. Its the economy that can be a cause of concern.

His economy of 9.68 can be worrisome. Though Mumbai Indians boast of having bowlers like Jasprit Bumrah in their ranks, they have lost other important bowlers like Lasith Malinga, Alzarri Joseph, which means that Hardik Pandya will have to step up his bowling performance. He has always been more of hit-the-deck bowler, however bowling slightly fuller will surely help him give away lesser runs than he does normally.

His performance as mentioned earlier augurs well for Mumbai Indians. He will be featuring for India in the World Cup in few days time and if he can perform the way he has been doing for Mumbai Indians, India will have a more realistic chance of winning the coveted trophy for the third time. Pandya has redeemed himself, he is only just a few knocks away from registering his name in the annals of history.