Hardik Pandya just loves to deliver against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR). Three years ago in 2015, it was his 31-ball 61 runs against the same opposition that had helped him to hog the limelight.

Fast forward in 2018, the allrounder once again proved to be a thorn in the flesh, for the two-time IPL champions. On Sunday (May 6), he came up with a brilliant all-round performance as Mumbai Indians won the game by 13 runs – to keep alive their playoff hopes alive.

With the bat, he remained unbeaten on 35 off just 20 balls to help Mumbai finish strongly on 181 for four.  His performance with the ball was even better. He dismissed the in-form Shubman Gill and then the well-set Nitish Rana to put Mumbai on top.

Hardik ended up conceding only 19 runs as Mumbai earned a hard-fought win. The two wickets helped Pandya take his wicket-tally to 14 this season and earn the Purple Cap. It is a remarkable feat for a player who had taken only 10 wickets in his last three seasons.

IPL 2018: We Believe We Can Do This, Says Hardik Pandya On Mumbai Indians' Playoff Chances
Credits: BCCI

Speaking after the win, Hardik expressed his delight over having the Purple Cap.

“It is a good thing. It was not my effort. I didn’t try that hard. But the (purple) cap is there and if you take wickets… I am happy,” Pandya said at the post-match press conference at Wankhede.

Despite the Twenty20 game being labelled a batsman’s format, Pandya doesn’t mind getting hit for the odd boundary.

“(Bowling in the) death is difficult but one thing I have understood about T20, even if you are bowling well, in odd games you will go for runs. Everybody is bowling well but if you see in all the games, someone has gone (for runs). In some games they have gone for 40-45, which happens in the T20 format. If you ask me about difficulty, powerplay and death is difficult because you have restrictions in the powerplay and in the death (overs), they are just there to swing,” he said.

The junior of the two Pandya brothers – Hardik further lavished praise on his elder brother and Indians teammate, Krunal.

Krunal has been an integral part of the team since making his debut in 2016. Not surprisingly, Mumbai shelled out a whopping INR 8.5 to secure his services through Right to Match (RTM) Card in this year’s auction.

IPL 2018: We Believe We Can Do This, Says Hardik Pandya On Mumbai Indians' Playoff Chances
Credits: BCCI

“I have seen his growth because he has always played with me. He has improved his game after a lot of hard work. To be honest, I am myself surprised. It is because of the confidence which he is carrying and showing that he belongs here, which is fantastic for him and the team,” Pandya said.

Promising Hardik concluded by saying that the team is confident of making it to the playoffs.

“The team is quite positive and we have to think that we are going to make it, otherwise no point in playing. As a team we believe we can do this. We have done it in the past though it is a bit difficult to do it,” he concluded.

An avid cricket lover, I just love this game more than anything. Writing about cricket keeps me closer to the game.