What Is Being Achieved By Bashing Hardik Pandya?
Hardik had an awful time with the bat vs WI T20Is (AP Photo)
Perhaps you may have heard and on innumerable counts that cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties.
Just how often have we all heard that one before?
But maybe it seems- and especially in the current orientation of the game- that the statement is rather incomplete.
A context-up first!
Maybe, somewhere it makes sense to concede that Cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties where a thing can be said for certain after all.
And it’s that- in the present day scenario, trolling is as much a part of the game as is a win or defeat.
Rather, a defeat or win won’t come in isolation with trolling; somewhere, that just won’t do it.
And if there’s a cricketer who is being trolled everywhere on social media, then it is the current T20I captain Hardik Pandya.
As a matter of fact, the intrepid Indian cricket fan, otherwise so devoted to each and every member of the famed team, cannot bear the sight of Pandya.
To say the above with certainty is akin to saying that the conditions get wet during rains on a cricket ground.
The number of posts, reposts, memes and fury-filled messages that Hardik Pandya is currently a subject of would just outrun the number of celestial objects in the cosmos.
And all of that for captaining the side to a series loss against the West Indies, best known for playing aggressive, if also, unpredictably particularly in the shortest format of the game.
Bear in mind the fact that Hardik Pandya captained a team that didn’t only have the big absences of Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma alone, whose notable omissions from the games was in no way, Pandya’s decision rather that of coach Rahul Dravid’s and the rest of the management’s.
From a fundamental point of view, the team that played in the West Indies didn’t have KL Rahul, Jasprit Bumrah, Rishabh Pant and Shreyas Iyer, who are still very much recovering albeit gladly just in time for the World Cup.
And Hardik Pandya was never a reason for their absences but obviously.
Moreover, Pandya stepped in to captain the team that had to manage the workload of two of India’s batting stalwarts while the unit went ahead with the decision to “experiment ,” a stand that has already been bashed rather aggressively on social media by various Cricketing circles.
Pandya, on his own, didn’t make that call. At the end of the day, you go ahead with the call or direction the entirety of the group makes and that is always an action you invest time thinking.
Where Pandya must be blamed is that his own returns were rather ordinary and unfortunately for his team, in the decisive T20I game.
He went wicketless, was hit for sixes and didn’t shine with the bat.
That's bad on him
Though, to be fair- how many players have an off day in the field whilst trying their best?
Did Steven Smith not have an off day or two in the Ashes? Did our beloved Virat Kohli not struggle for a lean patch that extended a few years?
Was the legend MS Dhoni always on song in every single game of the famous 2011 World Cup?
But the criticism and rather harsh nature of it didn’t just limit itself to his wickets or runs column; the fan directed his hatred veiled in hatred to what Pandya said a couple of games before.
Here’s what the Gujarat born did say: “Sometimes, losing is good. You learn from it.”
Technically speaking, what on earth did Pandya miss whilst saying what he did? How does one not learn from losing, doesn’t one better himself upon making a mistake?
Was Hardik maybe misunderstood?
To add more context, did India not bounce back after going 2-nil down earlier up. Did Pandya the captain not deserve any bit of appreciation for captaining the team to a path of revival after the West Indians showed his India their true place in the series.
Furthermore, moments before hitting the winning six in the third game of the just completed series, Pandya had mentioned clearly - as proved audible- that Tilak Varma must stay unbeaten in the end.
Did he ever say words that would otherwise have suggested- “I will take a single and give you the chance to hit the six” or “I specifically want you to finish off the game!”
Surely, Varma batted brilliantly and deserved a fifty. But was it not a bigger result for the entire collective that the team won in the end?
Since when have individual goals become more resounding than the team’s win?
But all of that told, where we might have to agree is the fact that Pandya isn’t the world’s greatest T20 player.
Pandya is no god
He’s not as consistent as a Shai Hope, who perhaps much averse to our Indian cricket obsessed sensibilities, is the most consistent scorer in the one day format; even Kohli and Rohit haven been able to outperform the Barbadian since the 2019 World Cup.
At the same time, Pandya isn’t Kallis - well not in the present scheme of things. He’s not blessed with the flair of Lara and the might of Ponting.
Moreover, Pandya isn’t as mighty a batsman at the T20 level as his compatriot and rival Surya and Pooran, respectively.
Yet, we would be doing some disservice to the cricketer by conveniently forgetting that he’s a passionate devotee of his Indian team.
Few players would’ve again endured the sheer risk of bending their backs once again with bowling especially having nursed such a major back fiasco as seen a little over a couple of years ago.
The same Pandya you see today taking wickets, diving around the field and hitting sixes that are trolled was being let off the ground on a stretcher sometime back.
How convenient and cool of us to have forgotten all of that?
That’s not to say that please don’t even offer a view when one of our player errs.
To err is human
We can criticise. But to base sheer disgust and play it on the repeat button, as is the order of the day, is unfair. That’s hitting below the belt.
And if the ethos of the game itself says that cricket is a gentleman’s game then what is the fan achieving by being foul mouthed?
Have we prioritised grace and respect for athletes that low in our lives?