One of India's most recognisable cricketers, Hardik Pandya is a stylish player. Maxim meets the man behind the 'do.
If you had to describe your playing style in one word, what would it be.
Why do you say that?
My style of play is usually dependent on the match situation. I am very confident of my game style and the choice of shots I play at various stages of the game. I don’t believe in having a “natural game”—my game totally depends on the match situation.
Where do you see yourself in five years? Let’s try and predict the future.
I don’t like over-thinking and predicting the future. My next target is always the next game and next series—whether it’s a Test, ODI or T20.
That’s a good way to be, we think. What’s it like to play professional cricket with your brother? Any sibling rivalry there?
My brother is my pillar of strength. He is playing great as well, and I wish to see him don the Indian colours soon. There is no rivalry among us. We are a source of strength and inspiration for each other.
You obviously keep very fit. What does your training schedule look like?
My training schedule is usually decided by the team trainer, depending on the schedule of matches. It also includes a lot of recovery sessions in the pool etc., which helps me retain my fitness and relax my muscles. During off-season, my training is a mix of training on grass, supplemented with gym sessions. It’s very important to eat right to remain fit. You’ll never see me binge on junk food.
What’s the best thing about playing for the Mumbai Indians? How has your role at MI helped develop your overall game?
More than a team, Mumbai Indians has become a family for me. This family includes the owners, support staff, management and all the players. It’s been a great three seasons for me with the MI family, and I hope to play for them in the future as well. As you’re aware, I don’t have a great first class record to boast of, and have reached this position because of the opportunities and belief put in me by MI. Playing with them has not only improved my game technically, but has also helped me evolve as a person. I was fortunate enough to be spotted by John Wright and I’ve not looked back since!
If you weren’t a cricketer, what would you be doing?
Oh, never thought about that. Since I was a kid, all I wanted to be was a cricketer. I have made many sacrifices on a daily basis to achieve this target... and one of the main reasons for achieving what I have is that I’ve never thought of an alternative career.
You clearly like to make a statement with your hairstyles. Where does this inspiration come from?
I like to try new things and experiment with different styles, without caring much about what others think or say. I haven’t been inspired by any one single person specifically, but throughout the world of sports you’ll find sportsmen with various styles that they have aced.
Do you style your own hair?
Initially, I did and tried new things with my hair myself. I still remember I once went ahead and coloured my own hair at the age of 13. Today, I work with Aalim Hakim, who’s a close friend.
What’s the first hairstyle you ever had?
I sported short hair for the longest time and, even then, I’d keep experimenting with different styles... without sticking to one for a long time.
Well, we wish we could do that. But we’ve already been called names. Style has invariably become an important part of a sportsperson’s life now. Is it exciting?
It has always excited me. I believe the most stylish part is when you’re comfortable wearing what you are—it shouldn’t take a lot of effort to look stylish.
That’s very well said. Who are your grooming icons?
I’ve not had grooming icons, but I’ve noticed various styles donned and aced by cricketers like Mahi bhai (M.S. Dhoni), Virat (Kohli) and Shikhar (Dhawan). We often joke about these things in the dressing room as well.
What’s the three wardrobe essentials you can’t do without?
A super watch, a pair of comfortable jeans and good shoes.
We couldn’t agree more.
PHOTOGRAPHS: MUNEESH TARSEM
STYLING: ISHA BHANSALI
HAIR: HAKIMS AALIM
MAKE-UP: VIKRAM BANATKAR
PRODUCTION: IMRAN KHATRI PRODUCTIONS
SHOT ON LOCATION: WATERSTONES HOTEL, MUMBAI