IPL 2019: Time out of game helped Pandya get into 'good mind space'

Mumbai Indians and India cricket team all-rounder Hardik Pandya is gearing up for his maiden 50-over World Cup appearance.

Hardik Pandya scored an unbeaten 37 to steer Mumbai Indians to victory over Royal Challengers Bangalore.   -  AP

When India’s national selection committee met at the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) headquarters to pick India’s 15-member squad for the World Cup, the chairman of the committee, MSK Prasad, was asked about the fitness levels of Hardik Pandya.

The 26-year-old all-rounder was ‘rested’ for the home series against Australia due to a back injury. But on Monday, Prasad clarified that Pandya’s injury was not that serious and he was left out mainly as a precautionary measure.

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Hours after the selection meeting, Pandya staged a rescue act for Mumbai Indians, playing an unbeaten knock of 37 in 16 balls to guide his team to victory over Royal Challengers Bangalore in an Indian Premier League fixture.

He feels that time out of the game has helped him get into a good mind space. “The time I was out is helping me right now because I am in a good mindset and everything is coming right,” Pandya said.

Earlier this year, Pandya was suspended by the BCCI for his controversial remarks in a television chat show. But he returned to action soon. “It’s okay, everyone has a setback and for me, I got some time for my body as well,” he said.

Against RCB, Pandya held fort in the end to guide Mumbai home, and he is happy to play this role. “I have been doing (this) for the last four years now. That’s my role in any team I play for. I have been practising at the nets the same thing. It is about the situation. You play according to situation and if you are smart enough, you will more often get the result you desire,” the all-rounder said.

Excited about his first World Cup, Pandya insists that a good IPL season will help him approach the all-important tournament -- which begins in England from May 30 -- better.

“It is pretty important to always have the confidence behind you. The World Cup is a big stage and I am playing in it for the first time. I was away from the game for sometime, so coming back it was important for me to hit well,” he said, making it clear that he has recovered from his back injury. “The back is good, touch wood!” he said.

Pandya had a good outing in England during the Champions Trophy in 2017. He, however, believes that the plans will only depend on the conditions .

“The last time I went, lots of people told me that it would be swinging, it will be nice to bowl but I don't think I have played on flatter wickets than the ones in the UK. Depending on the situation and depending on the conditions, if it is the same situation like in Champions Trophy it will be helpful,” Pandya said, quickly adding: “It’s (Champions Trophy) in the past and as a cricketer, I have changed.”