Hardik Pandya has had it tough in the last few months. Troubles began when his move from Gujarat Titans (GT) to Mumbai Indians for IPL 2024 did not go down well with MI fans.

The all-rounder, who was lauded as an astute skipper for taking GT to the IPL title in 2022, had replaced fan favourite Rohit Sharma at the helm. Supporters made their displeasure known, booing Hardik during matches.

The noise is bound to have affected Hardik, who performed poorly with bat and ball in the tournament.

There were fears that Hardik’s slump would continue when he wore the national jersey at the T20 World Cup. His spot as the all-rounder was especially crucial to the team balance.

ALSO READ | Lack of communication and some decisions didn’t go in my favour: Iyer on life after World Cup 2023 

Much to the relief of India fans, Hardik delivered with the ball in the opening game against Ireland here. The pitch no doubt aided him, but Hardik did his part by landing it consistently in the right areas.

His first scalp came with a classic inswinger which foxed Lorcan Tucker. A hint of away swing next up proved too good for Curtis Camphor. Mark Adair fell soon after, giving Hardik satisfying returns of three for 27.

The early stage of the comeback was complete.

The tough times in IPL 2024 forced Hardik to introspect. “I’m very happy to start on a good note. Everything falls into place for people who work hard. I had to spend time within myself and identify who I was,” Hardik told bcci.tv.

India batting coach Vikram Rathour was pleased to have a fit and firing Hardik ready for duty. “Hardik looked really good. He’s been bowling really well. He looks fit enough to go through four overs, and he’s been bowling with pace and some accuracy,” Rathour said.