Cricket was introduced in India by the British. Since then, it has gained immense popularity in the Indian subcontinent. After lifting the World Cup trophy in 1983, the popularity of cricket exploded like never before. It is one of the few things that binds a diverse country and is considered to be a religion. Cricketers are worshipped like demi-gods.
Along with the popularity of the sport itself, betting on the sport too has taken off immensely. Every year, thousands of crores worth of cricket bets are placed on various matches.
Over the years, India has gifted some of the best and extraordinary players to the sport, right from Maharaja Ranjitsinhji, to Kapil Dev, Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar. As the game has evolved over the years, it has progressed from being a slow and leisurely sport, to a fast paced, energetic and dynamic game.
The introduction of T20’s and league cricket has given an opportunity to players from all walks of life, and from smaller towns and cities, to showcase their talent on the big stage. Two such players who have made a mark in this bustling and competitive world of cricket are Hardik and Krunal Pandya.
The Pandya brothers were born in a middle class family in Gujarat. Krunal Pandya was born in 1991 and is two years elder to Hardik. Their father shifted to Baroda when Hardik was five years old, so that they could enjoy better cricket coaching facilities and enrolled them into Kiran More’s Academy.
Hardik studied till 9th grade, and eventually dropped out of school, so that he could follow his passion full time. He played his first domestic match for Baroda, and has been representing the team ever since on the domestic circuit. He played a pivotal role in taking his team to victory in the Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy in 2013-14.
On the back of his great performances in the domestic circuit, Hardik was picked up by the Mumbai Indians for the 2015 edition of the IPL. He made a mark for himself by playing some decent knocks in the tournament including a match-winning performance against the CSK by scoring 21 runs off 8 deliveries and grabbing 3 important catches and was named the Player of the match.
Seeing his performance in the tournament, Sachin Tendulkar had told him that he will definitely be playing for the national team within a year and a half. And sure enough, he was selected for the T20 against Australia in January 2016. His first ODI was against New Zealand in October 2016, and became only the fourth Indian player to be named the player of the match on his debut.
Seen initially as a batsmen, Hardik showed his all round abilities during the 2017 Champions Trophy, where he was the fourth highest run scorer, and second highest wicket taker for India. Ever since then, he has been an indispensable part of the national team, and for the Mumbai Indians in the IPL.
It is quite rare to see two cricketers from the same family to make a name on the big stage, especially in this age of immense competition. One year after his younger brother was picked up by the Mumbai Indians, Krunal was roped in by the same team for 2016 season.
It came as a surprise for him, as he had not even played a single match at the senior level till then. However, he grabbed the opportunity with both hands and played consistently throughout the tournament. Over the years, he has played some great knocks, including 47 run innings in the finals of the 2017 edition, and was adjudged as the Player of the Match. In addition to his fast-paced batting, Krunal has a decent record of bowling with his left-arm orthodox spin.
Krunal made his international T20 debut in November 2018 and has played 18 international T20s so far. Over the years, like his brother, he too has become an indispensable part of the Mumbai Indians with his all-around ability.
For the 2020 edition of IPL, the Pandya brothers were picked up by the Mumbai Indians for a combined salary of almost 20 crores! Surely they have proved that with determination and hard work, no dream is too big to achieve.