Hardik Pandya does not want anyone to compare him to the greatest Indian all-rounder Kapil Dev. He wants everyone to acknowledge him as Hardik Pandya only.
Cricket news: Pandya claimed five wickets to derail England’s first innings in the third Test at Trent Bridge
Pandya broke England’s spine in the first innings of the Trent Bridge as he took his first five-wicket haul within 29 balls as the hosts conceded a massive 168-run lead.
That lead was further extended at the close of the day to 292 runs with India still having eight wickets in hand and three more days to go in the Test.
Pandya has now become the second highest wicket-taker for India in this series as he has now 8 wickets to his tally and also has the best average.
Ever since Pandya scored a fifty in his debut and a century in his third Test, he has compared to the legendary Kapil Dev, who performed his role as an all-rounder for about 15 years.
West Indies fast bowler Michael Holding had also heard of the comparison and last week during an interview with ESPNCricinfo he said that Pandya is “nowhere near” Kapil and India needed to find “somebody” who can contribute more.
After his match-defining performance on Sunday, Pandya confessed to the media that he is tired of being compared to someone else and wants all those talks to end soon.
"The problem with this is you compare yes, but all of a sudden something goes wrong and they are like he is not that [Kapil Dev]," Pandya said. "I have never wanted to be Kapil Dev. Let me be Hardik Pandya. I am good at being Hardik Pandya, reached here till now, I have played 40 ODIs and now 10 Test matches being Hardik Pandya, not Kapil Dev. They are great in their era. Let me be Hardik Pandya. Stop comparing me with anyone. I will be happy if you don't."
Pandya, while talking to former England captain Nasser Hussain on Sky Sports, also said that he does not care what his critics think about him behind his back.
"For sure not. I will simply say one thing. Let's not worry about me. I know what I am exactly doing. My team backs me. That's what matters. And to be honest I don't care what people say."
He also said that the bowling department’s focus after the wicket-less first session was to bowl full. "I tried to swing the ball and if you try to swing the ball you go little full. You tend to get driven. I am not afraid of getting driven because if the wickets come runs does not matter."
Pandya also said that he tried to vary his release points, bowl from different angles and create doubts in the batsmen’s mind so that the batsmen failed to read him.
"I feel that if I keep on bowling the same way they might get used to it," he said. "So I always focus on using the crease or even the line where I am bowling because it is very important, it makes a huge difference. If I go wide and I bowl the same ball the batsman thinks it is coming in with the angle, but if goes out you get the opportunity of getting him out."
Pandya also thanked his bowling mate Ishant Sharma for his role in supporting him as Ishant played against all the English batsmen and knew their weaknesses which he shared with Pandya.
"Ishy [Ishant] was telling me the same thing: don't go for the wickets, if you keep bowling at the rights areas, you have the talent to get them. That's the same thing I tell him and same thing which we tell other bowlers. Keep it tight, let's see what they do, let's check their patience and once again we saw the result what happens."
Later when asked which one he enjoyed more – scoring the maiden Test century at Pallekele or getting a five-wicket haul at Nottingham, Pandya replied, "I am happier with taking five-wicket haul than scoring a hundred. I have taken very few five-wicket hauls, I think this is the second of my life, and it has come at a very important place so I am very happy."