Hardik Pandya, just off his suspension thanks to his scandalous comments of a television chat show, is back in full form with Mumbai Indians for Indian Premier League 2019. He has even mastered MS Dhoni's 'helicopter shot!
Pandya known for his cool, nonchalant air has earned the moniker 'Rockstar'. He laughs, "Some players started calling me that, I assumed it was because I dance pretty well and I dress well." Going by some of his viral dance videos, we concur that the all-rounder does have some, in equal parts, suave and wacky dance moves up his sleeve.
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Early to Bed, Early to Rise
The brisk seam bowler and the powerful middle-order batsman's overall fitness has drastically improved. He is quicker, getting more runs and his fielding has been on-point; and Pandya attributes this to his disciplined fitness routine and lifestyle choices, "Earlier, I would never follow a strict diet and I hate to admit that I wasn't very disciplined. But for some time now, my eating, sleeping and workout habits have changed and that has reflected on my game. It starts with my breakfast: I mix my protein, carbs and fibre. Same goes for lunch. For dinner, I don't eat rice or roti. I just eat a bit of chicken or a protein supplement, which helps me. As a sportsman, you need to cultivate good eating habits and lead a disciplined life. I sleep latest by 10:30 pm, some days even at 9:30 pm. That way, I wake up early and fresh, and diligently go about my workout."
Pandya's fitness has always been fine, and he's always had a wiry frame. "There were times when I thought that if I ever did cheat on my diet, it wouldn't really reflect on my body or physique. Of course, with age everyone's body changes and reacts differently to food. So, I try to control my mind and stick to my diet because I am focused on my game and when I eat well, I play better and my reflexes are quicker." There are dedicated days for gym, cardio--it's the entire package. He has added some muscle with this fitness routine that ranges from weightlifting to running with a dead-weight attached to his body. "Running is something we do even when we aren't touring. We need to run and stay fit, improve our endurance and stamina."
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Cheat Days and Favourite Food
The stylish batsman's voice perks up when he talks about his love for Maggi. "Maggi is comfort food. I don't always get the opportunity to eat it nowadays, but I would cook special Maggi for my family too." While it's a given that staying on course with your diet is a must for any professional and competitive sport, Pandya admits that he's just like the rest of us and loves his pani-puri and pav bhaji or "bingeing on butter chicken at my favourite Delhi Darbar on certain days or eating Chinese food." But when he's touring, what's the one thing he misses the most, we ask. And pat comes his reply: "My Mum's Dal-Chawal and Kadhi-Chawal with its intrinsic Gujarati flavours."
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Learning from the best
Pandya holds his Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli in high regard. "He has set a great example, we play together and share plenty of good memories. He's focused on his fitness and when any of the boys need any help to try out a new fitness routine, Virat is the one who advises them and nudges them on to work harder. And it's reflecting in our game--the Indian cricket team performance graph has been soaring due to our improved fitness levels."
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Pandya is also humbled by the learnings doled out by former Indian captain MS Dhoni, "MS Bhai helped me assess the game better. I took a lot of suggestions from him on how to improve my batting as well as bowling." But Pandya stays true to his humble roots and says that he will always be indebted to his first coach Kiran More. "I started training at his academy when I was barely six years old, he's always my go-to guy when I need any help or advice. And when it comes to the right attitude on the field, I imbibe it from my favourite footballers Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Lionel Messi," the Rockstar signs off.
Watch Hardik Pandya with Parthiv Patel, in conversation with Sandeep Patil on Taste Match, only on LF.
Creative courtesy: Vartika Pahuja
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