Every time I see Sourav Ganguly I ponder that whether Ganguly ever called up Vinod Kambli to show his gratitude. After all, if Kambli did not have that typical streak of self-destruction, the fate of both Kambli and Ganguly would have been different.
Vinod Kambli was the brightest star of Indian middle order after his back to back Test double centuries in 1993. He started taking his success for granted and by 1995, his life was on a different track altogether.
More than his batting he was paying attention to style quotient, to his hairstyle and kind of beard he would sport. His non-seriousness was palpable on the ground. By the time World Cup 1996 was over, his crankiness was way beyond the acceptable zone.
Kambli was dropped from the side which toured England in the summer of 1996. Another elegant southpaw Ganguly (along with Rahul Dravid) grabbed the opportunity with both hands and Kambli never played for India.
Few years further back in 1984-85, another "style bhai" Sandeep Patil played a sheer reckless shot in Delhi Test against England at the time when India was struggling to save Test.
Patil was dropped as punishment and he was replaced by Azharuddin. Azhar grabbed the opportunity and scored three centuries back to back. Sandeep Patil never played for India.
On Tuesday's night, when I saw Mumbai catapulting against a total of 118 of Sunrisers Hyderabad, I was not only feeling very sorry for the team but also for the talented young player like Hardik Pandya. Chasing a total of 118, Mumbai was bundled out for just 87.
Hardik Pandya, playing down the order scored just 3 runs facing 19 balls. When Pandya was returning back to the pavilion, I was sensing and fearing that Pandya may end up as another Patil or Kambli, a premature end of a promising player. After the match, Mumbai's coach Mahela Jayawardene minced no words and censured Pandya in particular for the poor show.
Just a few months back, Hardik Pandya was a new poster boy of Indian Cricket. Many believe that he would be for India what Ben Stokes is for England. In my opinion, His swashbuckling knock at Cape Town is one of best knocks by an Indian number seven overseas in recent Test series with South Africa.
But then at Cape Town, he blew the credentials he earned by his callous attitude. His casual running at the Centurion was deplorable and moreover, the smugness with which strolled back to the pavilion after throwing his wicket was beyond limits actually.
At Pandya's age, steep success may come with a desire to become the super stud and ultra-cool on the field. One tends to become swagger. It has even happened to people like Sachin Tendulkar. 1998 was the whirlwind year for Tendulkar. He scored nine ODI centuries in a single calendar year.
He singles handily decimated Australia in home Test series. In January 1999, India played the first Test of a Test series against Pakistan at Chennai. Tendulkar came to bat with a mindset to dominate bowling right from the word go and Saqlain sent him back without scoring. Tendulkar learned his lesson. He scored a magnificent century in the second innings. He did a timely course correction.
A few years back I read an interview of Sandeep Patil. Patil, in fact, was admitting and repenting that in Delhi he blundered and agreed that he was not taking his game seriously and paid the hefty price.
Pandya needs to take a cue from the past and control and his aggression and attitude. Nothing wrong with your desire with showmanship but your duties come first and Pandya needs to understand this.
Changing hairstyle every week will not give you sustained success, but toiling at the net and your desire to improve continually will deliver it for sure. Complacency can be career limiting. Mahela Jayawardene has also clearly told that Hardik Pandya need to work harder and evolve to become a consistent cricketer.
He is a talented cricketer and if he can reorganise his energy, he is a serious long-term prospect for the side. Or else there is no dearth of talent to replace him.
An Azharuddin or a Ganguly is always there to grab the opportunity.
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL)