Mumbai: An on-field injury followed by some controversial statements off the field saw all-rounder Hardik Pandya in the news for all the wrong reasons. But the Mumbai Indians player wants the focus back on his game and was instrumental in helping MI beat Chennai Super Kings by 37 runs at the Wankhede Stadium.
A brilliant 8-ball 25 was followed by bowling figures of 3/20 from his four overs as the all-rounder was rightly handed the Man of the Match award.
Speaking after the game, Pandya thanked all those who have supported him through his tough time.
"The injury happened and then the controversy too. These seven months weren't easy and I wasn't sure of what to do. This award is special and I dedicate it to all those who stood by me during those tough times. My goal is to keep performing and hopefully, help India win the World Cup," he said.
Pandya said he was waiting to get some game time after spending hours at the nets. He also added that he is hitting the ball really well at the moment.
"It feels really good to help the team win and to contribute to it. It's been seven months since I played much competitive cricket. Have batted and batted and batted in the nets. I am someone who loves to have game time and I am hitting them really well at the moment," he said.
While Pandya played a cameo at the end, he was well supported by West Indies all-rounder Kieron Pollard as he hit an unbeaten 17 off just 7 balls. The experienced campaigner said that Pandya was doing a fabulous job for the team.
"Taking into context, the Pandya boys are doing really well. He has a clear mind and has been hitting the ball very well. As a team, we strive on momentum. It's good for us, we have been batting pretty well, it's just a matter of improvement," he said.
On his own little cameo at the end of the MI innings, Pollard said: "Whenever I get a chance, I try to make a difference and contribute to the team."