India vs England 1st ODI: Krunal Pandya rides tidal wave of emotions

At the MCA Stadium on Tuesday, Krunal Pandya was visibly emotional. Soon after getting his India ODI cap from younger brother Hardik, the Baroda and Mumbai Indians all-rounder looked skywards, remembering his father Himanshu Pandya, who passed away in January. Krunal broke down while hugging his brother tightly.
Later, he dedicated his smashing ODI debut – an unbeaten 58 off just 31 balls – to his late father, and, overcome with emotion again, couldn’t even speak to commentator Murali Kartik. After lighting up the stadium with seven fours and two sixes, Krunal eventually found some solace in another bear hug with Hardik.

Krunal’s magnificent display also reflected the man’s resilience in the face of adversity in recent times. In November, after landing at the Mumbai airport after featuring in yet another triumphant IPL campaign for the Mumbai Indians, he was detained by customs authorities for allegedly trying to bring in undeclared diamond-studded and other luxury watches.
In January, just before the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy, he had an ugly spat at the Baroda nets with teammate Deepak Hooda, who was later suspended by the Baroda Cricket Association (BCA). Weeks later came the ultimate blow when his father – both the brothers were extremely close to him – expired. Amid all this was the frustration of being dropped from India’s T20 team.

Krunal’s blazing half-century made his and Hardik’s childhood coach, former India wicketkeeper Kiran More emotional too. “His father would be a very happy man today, as it was because of his desire to make Krunal a cricketer that he moved from Surat to Baroda. He dreamt of Krunal playing for India. When he came to my academy with his sons, I initially refused to give admission to Krunal as he was just seven, and my academy allows trainees only above the age of 12.
“However, I was forced to make an exception for Krunal since he looked really talented even at that age. I remember saying somewhere that this boy would go on to play for India when he was just 12, and Krunal still has a cutting of that article. With their modest background, both the brothers really struggled to make ends meet initially. Since then, they’ve made rapid strides in his career,” More told TOI.

Like Hardik had hinted during the Australia tour, More felt that Krunal, an attacking left-hander and a good left-arm spinner, could be the ideal finisher for India in limited-overs games. “I was very disappointed when he was dropped from India’s T20 team in 2019. He has won a couple of MoM awards and has even been named man of the series in his short (18-match) T20I career. He too was a bit disturbed after he was dropped, but he’s done very well to bounce back from that setback to make an excellent start in ODIs,” More said.

Krunal has been prolific this season – scoring 388 runs in five games@129.33, including two hundreds, in the Vijay Hazare Trophy to earn the ODI call-up.
The hard work is paying off.

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