Pandey makes a statement

Pandey makes a statement

Telling tale

Pandey makes a statement

 Manish Pandey has always fascinated and frustrated cricket afficionados in equal measure.

Gifted with outrageous talent, the right-hander time and again had shown his calibre with the bat both in the domestic first-class cricket and the Indian Premier League. The first Indian to score a hundred in IPL, the Karnataka batsman was expected to scale higher peaks long before the Sydney knock that gave India their only win of the five-match ODI series on Saturday.

Pandey’s unbeaten 104, which helped India overhaul Australia’s 330, was typically entertaining. Playing only in his sixth international, Pandey belied his inexperience on his way to a nerveless hundred.

“Whatever happens, it happens for a good reason,” said R Vinay Kumar, his State captain and a long-time team-mate, when asked if Pandey got his chances a touch later than other Karnataka players. “That’s one way of looking at it, but I would say all the experience he has gained over the years in domestic cricket and IPL is helping him deal with pressure better. He came in to bat (in Sydney) after two quick wickets and he knew the middle-order didn’t have much experience if you leave out MS Dhoni. So, I think he handled the situation really well. I always knew he was capable of doing such things and it was just a matter of time,” explained Vinay, who has always pushed Pandey to perform.

Part of the Under-19 World Cup winning team under Virat Kohli in 2008, Pandey, right from his breakthrough season for Karnataka in 2010, has been on the radar but with every step forward he has taken two steps backward. Not all of that was his own doing though. The 26-year-old suffered injuries at vital junctures in his career while he could have done avoiding controversy surrounding his shift from Royal Challengers Bangalore to now-defunct Pune Warriors that appeared to have affected his game adversely as the subsequent statistics prove.

A match winning 90 off 54 balls for Kolkata Knight Riders against Kings XI Punjab in the 2014 final in Bengaluru, however, gave him his first break in India’s T20 squad but the match was cancelled after the West Indies pulled out of the tour midway. Pandey had to wait till the Zimbabwe tour for which many first-choice players were rested. In the only match he got to play, Pandey scored 71 to help India recover from 82 for four.

With the return of regulars, Pandey had to bide his time before selectors rewarded him with a place in the ODI squad for Australia. He didn’t bat in the first ODI while in the second he went in with a few overs left in the innings. Dropped for third and fourth matches, Pandey got his chance again in Sydney and was promoted to number four. And he wasn’t going to let go of the opportunity.         

“Batting No 4 is one of the chances I got because Ajju (Ajinkya Rahane) was injured, and I wanted to capitalise, especially on these wickets, with 300 scored in every match,” said Pandey.

Skipper Dhoni too praised Pandey.
“Manish paced his innings very well. At times you think to play big shots at crucial times but the grounds here are very big. If you mistime the shot, you will get out, but if you exploit the same, you will get runs which doesn’t happen on smaller grounds. So you have to rely on running and when we had our partnership I told him the same thing. I told him whatever happens you will get at least two boundaries, and ultimately we will get those runs. As far as player development is concerned this innings will be very important for him and he will have to keep in mind the good things he did in this game,” he said.