All-rounder Hardik Pandya has said that comparisons with Indian legend Kapil Dev are unwarranted and that he should be left alone to perform on the basis of his capabilities.
Pandya took career-best figures of 5/28 as England were bowled out for 161 in reply to India's 329. The visitors finished day two on 124/2, thus taking an overall 292-run lead.
The all-rounder also took on his critics saying he doesn't play for them.
"Comparisons are fine. But the problem with this (comparison) is that all of a sudden when something goes wrong and they are like he is not that. I have never wanted to be Kapil Dev. Let me be Hardik Pandya. I am good at being Hardik Pandya, and I have reached here till now played 40 ODIs and 10 Tests being Hardik Pandya, not Kapil Dev." - Hardik Pandya
"They have created their era, let me be Hardik Pandya. Let's stop comparing me with anyone. I will be happy if you don't," he said yesterday after a game-changing performance,” added Pandya.
Pandya ran through the England line-up after Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah were unable to hit the right lengths.
Aiming his guns at the recent criticism that has come after defeats in Birmingham and Lord's, Pandya made it clear that he plays for the country and is not answerable to anyone but the team.
"I don’t play for them (critics). They are getting paid for saying things which I don’t even want to know or care. I play for my country. I am doing the right thing. My team is happy with me, nothing else matters." - Hardik Pandya
Talking about Sharma's influence, Pandya said, "Ishant and I, we keep talking about the game because I love to improve no matter how. So as bowlers we keep on taking. Captain has lots of things under his belt, so as a bowling unit we need to step up and think in our way as well. We are going to make life difficult for the batsmen and 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 that we tell other bowlers too. Keep it tight, let’s see what they do, let’s check their patience and once again we saw the result what happens." - Hardik Pandya
Last year in Sri Lanka, Pandya had scored his maiden Test hundred at Pallekele. He said that the five-wicket haul gave him more pleasure.
"I am happier with taking a 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/juncture so I am very happy." - Hardik Pandya
Last but not the least, he praised youngster Rishabh Pant who became the first Indian wicket-keeper to take five catches in his first Test.
"Rishabh looks very confident. I believe I was also like him when I started my career. He looks really good on the field and you can expect him to do well in the long run. He is a horse for the long race. He will do well and he is not afraid of anything. If in this field, if someone plays as freely, success will come." - Hardik Pandya
"We were making fun as well and he is amazing behind the stumps, KL (Rahul) as well when you know someone is catching so well, you know as a bowler if you create a chance they will grab it," he signed off.
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(With inputs from PTI)
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