Pandya: 'I play for my country, don't care what critics say'

Hardik Pandya turned the third Test on its head with his career-best spell of five for 28.

Hardik Pandya celebrates after taking a five-wicket haul on day two of the third Test.   -  AP

Hardik Pandya was a delighted man after claiming his maiden five-wicket haul in Test cricket. "I am happier with taking five wicket-haul than scoring a hundred. Because I've hardly done this. This is probably the second five-for of my life. It's come in an important situation and so I'm happy," he said after the second day's play at Trent Bridge.

Pandya's selection as an all-rounder in Test cricket has not always seemed justified, and the player has thus drawn much criticism. But the 24-year-old insisted he was not bothered. "First of all, I don't play for them (his critics). They are getting paid for saying things which I don't want to know about and I don't even care what they say. I play for my country. I don't care what they say. It's their job to say and it's my job to play for my country. I'm doing the right thing. My team is happy with me. Nothing else matters," he said.

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Pandya was asked about his comparisons with Kapil Dev, and it was pointed out to him that the latter had returned figures of five for 28 against Australia in 1981. Pandya was not pleased. "Sir the problem is this...What happens is they compare, fine. But all of a sudden when something goes wrong they say, 'He is not that'. I never wanted to be Kapil Dev. Let me be Hardik Pandya, I'm good at being Hardik Pandya. I've come so far -- playing 40 ODIs and 10 Tests -- being Hardik and not Kapil Dev. He was great in his era. Let me be Hardik Pandya. Stop comparing me with anyone. I'll be happy if you don't."

Ishant Sharma was seen talking to Pandya a great deal during the latter's spell on Sunday afternoon. "[He played a] big role. Ishant and I keep on talking. As a bowling unit we keep on talking. Because the captain has a lot on his plate. Ishy was telling me, 'Don't go for wickets. If you bowl in the right areas, you'll get wickets.' That's the same thing I tell him and the other bowlers as well: 'Keep it tight, let's check their patience'."