India allrounder Hardik Pandya has revealed his mental struggles while spending time on the sidelines as his multiple attempts at making international comeback amounted to nothing in the past six months or so. Also Read - World Cup 2011 Was Won By Entire Indian Team: Gautam Gambhir Takes Exception to 'Obsession' With MS Dhoni Six
Pandya underwent a back surgery last year in London putting him completely out of action as he began his rehabilitation. After having recovered in January, he was to make his competitive return through India A which was on a shadow tour of New Zealand. However, at the last minute, he was pulled out of the tour with the team management claiming Pandya was yet to regain full fitness. He was subsequently ruled out of the New Zealand limited-overs and then the Test series as well. Also Read - 300 or 0, Virender Sehwag Rarely Got Emotionally Hijacked: Simon Taufel
In an interview to teammate Yuzvendra Chahal posted on BCCI’s official website, Pandya said, “I missed this atmosphere the most in these last six months, playing for the country and the feeling you get wearing the team’s colours.” Also Read - I'm an Indian And Will Always Stand For Humanity: Yuvraj Singh Reacts to Criticism For Supporting Shahid Afridi's Foundation
“That had become a mental challenge and there were a lot of setbacks. I was trying to get back to full fitness quickly but that did not work out and a lot of mental pressure came at the time. But touchwood, everything went fine, the rehabilitation went well and a lot of people helped me,” he added.
The 25-year-old finally made his much-awaited on-field return during a T20 competition in Mumbai where he blasted two centuries – one of them resulting in an unbeaten 55-ball 158. The performances sealed his fate as he was named in the India squad for a three-match home ODI series against South Africa.
“It was important,” Pandya said of his display in the T20 tournament. “I had not played anything for six and a half months. I wanted to make an international comeback so it was very important for my confidence. No matter how much you practice, the match situation is always different.”
He continued, “So I just kept on playing, my confidence kept improving and the sixes were coming off well. I thought if they are coming off well, why should I stop and I kept going. But I never thought that I want to hit 20 sixes in an innings.”