The year 2020 has started with love and promise for newly-engaged Hardik Pandya but exactly a year back the flamboyant all-rounder was finding it difficult to even step out of his house following his much-criticized sexist remarks on chat show 'Koffee with Karan'. Pandya was indefinitely suspended by BCCI for making outrageous remarks on women and subsequently, let off with a fine. He had a mediocre IPL, World Cup and then a back-surgery that kept him out of cricket for more than three months.
"I still remember I did not step out of my house. It took me a week or 10 days to just realise that this is not it. You have to step out and face the things than just being in your cocoon," Pandya told 'India Today' during its programme 'Inspiration'.
"I realised that this is kind of an exam that is coming at a difficult phase which you have to get through. I then shifted my focus to my game and forgot what happened. Whether I was going to be suspended for six months or coming back in the next game. I had no idea, it was just rumours."
The 26-year-old feels that a lot of people perceive him wrongly and it changes once they meet him.
"Lots of people take me in a very wrong way. Someone who does not know me, they think I am arrogant, I am not easy to talk to and cocky and all. I have got so many people who came to me and said, 'we thought you were like this but you're completely opposite'."
"That's why the relationship that I have with all my teammates or anyone who knows me closely is fantastic. They are genuinely like my brothers."
"I still remember when I came back, everyone was looking after me, making sure I was mentally alright, physically alright which was quite a sweet thing. The comeback was fine," said Pandya, who has played 11 Tests, 54 ODIs and 40 T20 Internationals.
The comeback from a complicated back surgery was tough and he wishes that no one should go through that experience. "I had a word with Virat. He just dropped a message, asking me how I am (after the surgery). I replied 'I am good but I just wish that no one in the world goes through a back surgery'. I was obviously in medication and all and it was emotionally challenging as well. From lifting 100 kg I went to not being able to lift my leg." With his selection for New Zealand tour all but certain, Pandya is happy that he has recovered "faster than expected". "The recovery has been fantastic, touchwood. Your body was used to giving 100 percent but once your body touches the knife, you have to start giving 200 percent. That's what we focussed on. You know, it's not been easy but I have been getting stronger."