Indian all-rounder Hardik Pandya celebrates his 26th birthday on Friday. Born on October 11, 1993, the Gujarat-born lad is a stylish cricketer and is a vital cog in the Indian team. Pandya is an explosive batsman, handy bowler and a gun fielder which makes him a great performer on the cricket field. The charismatic all-rounder came into the limelight with some blistering cameos in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2015. Playing for Mumbai Indians, the dasher possed the ability to hit sixes at will. Pandya continued his stellar show in the domestic circuit and was soon drafted in the Indian side. Since then, there was no looking back for Hardik as he took giant strides in international cricket.
The flamboyant all-rounder made his international debut in January 2016 and has proved his mettle in all formats of the game. Till now, Pandya has featured in 54 ODIs in which he has amassed 957 and scalped 54 wickets. In T20Is, the all-rounder has registered 310 runs and 38 wickets. While in the longest format of the game, the 26-year old has made his appearance in 11 clashes, in which he has scored 532 runs and took 17 wickets. The all-rounder has made a promising start to his career and has a substantial record at the international level. However, statistics can't define his fearless approach and ability to change the tempo of the game. Many cricket experts and Pundits also regard Pandya as the next big thing in the cricketing world. Meanwhile, on the occasion of Hardik Pandya's 26th birthday, let's look at the five best performances by the star all-rounder.
83 & 2/28 vs Australia in Chennai
The Baroda-born cricketer shone in all three departments in the first ODI of Australia's 2017 Tour of India. Pandya came in to bat when India were reeling at 87/5. Despite the unfavourable circumstances, the right-handed batsman backed his natural game and attacked the Aussie bowlers. The dasher scored 83 of just 66 deliveries and guided India to 281 runs in the first innings. After a fiery innings, Pandya contributed with the ball as well and took two crucial wickets. Courtesy the all-rounder's effort, India won the clash by 26 runs.
93 & 2/27 vs South Africa in Capetown
On a pitch where many batsmen were struggling to put the bat on the ball, Pandya played a blistering knock and left the opposition awestruck. In the first Test of India's 2018 Tour of South Africa, Pandya came in to bat after a top-order collapse. In spite of the situation, Pandya went after the bowlers from the outset and smashed the likes of Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel. Although, Pandya missed his century by seven runs but brought India into the match. Later, the all-rounder also claimed a couple of wickets in South Africa's second innings and proved his mettle in the whites. However, the 26-year old's effort went in vain as India lost the match by 72 runs.
33* & 4/38 vs England in Bristol
The all-rounder took the opposition by storm in the third T20I of India's 2018 Tour of England. Batting first, the hosts got off to a flier and a massive score was on the cards. However, Pandya took wickets at regular intervals in the later-half of the innings and England only could manage 198 runs in the first innings. While chasing the target, Pandya was sent ahead of MS Dhoni and the explosive batsman justified the decision. The dasher shook hands with his Mumbai Indian captain Rohit Sharma and changed the tempo of the game. Pandya scored 33 off just 14 deliveries and India crossed the lines with seven wickets in hand.
52* & 5/28 vs England in Nottingham
The third Test of India's 2018 Tour of England witnessed an astonishing spell by Hardik Pandya which dismantled the English batting line-up. The right-arm pacer produced a magical spell and claimed his maiden five-wicket haul in the space of just 29 deliveries. Pandya dented the hosts and they were bundled out for mere 161 runs in their first innings. After his heroics with the ball, the youngster came good with the bat as well and scored a quick-fire fifty in India's second innings. Pandya's all-round display proved to be fruitful as India won the match by 203 runs.
76 vs Pakistan in London
An Indian cricket fan can never forget this mayhem from Hardik Pandya in the finals of the ICC Champions Trophy 2017. Chasing a massive target of 339 against the arch-rivals, Pandya came in to bat after the top-order got tumbled. Mohammad Amir and Hasan Ali were breathing fire with their deliveries and India's loss was set on the cards. However, Pandya had some other plans and demolished the opposition. Pandya rained fours and sixes and brought life to a dead match. Unfortunately, the all-rounder's carnage came to a heartbreaking end as he got run-out. After Pandya's ouster, Pakistan wrapped up the Indian tail quickly and registered a 180-run victory.
Currently, the cricketer is in London and is recovering from a back injury. Pandya underwent a successful surgery but will be out of action for at least six months. The youngster was a regular face in Indian set-up for all three formats. So, his absence will certainly affect the team. However, with the ICC World T20 2020 just one year away, the team management will want to see a fit Hardik Pandya who can guide India to the tournament's title.