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Virat backs Pandya, says will emerge stronger after controversy

January 31, 2019

Disgraced cricketer Hardik Pandya came in for some support from India cricket captain Virat Kohli. Virat praised Pandya, who picked 2 for 45 off his 10 overs and took a great catch to dismiss New Zealand Captain Kane Williamson in the third one day international this week.

Pandya was suspended and ordered to return home from the Australia tour along with K L Rahul after the two players made sexist remarks on the TV show Koffee with Karan. Soon after the episode, Pandya came in for strong criticism from the cricket community as well as the public. Pandya apologised but was punished by the Indian cricket board.

Later the suspensions were lifted and Pandya flew back to New Zealand and replaced Vijay Shankar in the third one day and played brilliantly, making Virat happy.

It's very, very good to have Hardik back. He is someone who provides a lot of balance to the team. And the way he bowled today showed he went back and practiced his skills. He put his head down and focused on what he needed to do and you could tell from the way he bowled with intensity straightaway.. picking two crucial wickets at that stage. He's someone who will give you those important contributions in all three departments and that's something any team would want to have and when he comes in, the team looks a lot more balanced. - Virat Kohli, India cricket captain

Kohli added, "It's good to have him back in the right headspace and the right kind of mindset to perform for the team and I hope he can keep growing with this performance".

He also hoped that Pandya would emerge as a stronger cricketer after the TV show. For Pandya the blowback has been severe. He has lost a major endorsement deal and his membership at a major Mumbai club.

Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar also praised Pandya for his game. Speaking to a major sports channel, Gavaskar said, "Pandya is a young man, he has had things that have happened and he just wants to forget it. The best way to forget it is being out on the field".

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