Nottingham, June 13: The easy-going Hardik Pandya has made light of Indians' sky-high expectations from their revered cricket team, saying "maybe only 1.5 billion people are expecting" them to win the World Cup.
The all-rounder has emerged as one of the biggest players in India's quest to win their third World Cup. "(There is) no pressure because only maybe 1.5 billion people are expecting, so no pressure at all," Hardik said in a video posted by the ICC.
The 25-year-old said his sole objective is to win the World Cup. "On 14th July I want to have a Cup in my hand, that is the only thing. Even when I think of it it gives me goosebumps. My plan is simple - win the World Cup. I am hoping that and I expect that from myself," he said.
Hardik added, "(Playing for) India means everything to me, this is my life. I am someone who plays the game with love, passion and loves challenges. Three and half years I have been preparing for this, so the time has come."
The cricketer said the struggles he has faced during his journey have taught him to be happy irrespective of the situation. "I am a happy soul, I like to be happy no matter what happens in my life. Me and my brother (Krunal) were talking and he just mentioned that we, as brothers, are always happy about everything. Because, for us, from where we have come, everything is a bonus."
He recalled India's triumph in the 2011 World Cup and how he, then dreaming to one day play for the country, celebrated. "Few days back my friend sent me a picture and asked 'if you remember this' and I was like 'I sure do'.
"He clicked the picture of us celebrating after Indian winning the World Cup in 2011. And we were on the street because it was a festival. I have never seen so many people out in one night. It actually made me emotional. Eight years down the line playing the 2019 World Cup, it's been a dream. And my team-mates are my brothers," Hardik said.