During the match against Mumbai Indians, Manish Pandey kicked off with the most peculiar shot --- trying to keep down a rising delivery with a swat. It served the purpose of giving him a single. And quickly, Pandey was off to a great start that finally produced 52 runs off just 29 balls.
Pandey can be unorthodox at times but extremely effective. That’s one of the biggest reasons he was drafted into the ODI squad for the Australia series. He made that single chance count by slamming an unbeaten hundred in Sydney. It was only because of that innings that he was again drafted into the Twenty20 semifinal eleven against West Indies.
The first Indian to score an IPL century, Pandey has transformed into a batsman who is more sure of his game now than a year ago. A lot of that had to do with his stint with Kolkata Knight Riders.
As talented a batsman that Pandey is, he doesn’t get many opportunities to leave a mark. But when he does, he tries to make it count. “I think what I realised in last couple of months was that staying on the wicket will give me runs. I can’t just go nuts from the first ball,” said Pandey after KKR’s loss to Mumbai Indians on Wednesday.
He tries to power his way with some of the rising deliveries but when Pandey decides to hit through the line of the ball, few can be cleaner than him. “What I’m trying to do now is I look to take a little bit of time, assess the wicket and see what’s happening. That’s what Jacques Kallis was telling me the other day – ‘even if you have just 10 runs in 10 balls that’s fine, don’t worry, because once you get to know the wicket a little more, you have your shots and you can play all around’,” he said.
The theory of using the first few balls in a Twenty20 match to assess conditions has been doing the rounds for a while now. Chris Gayle employs it when he wants to.
But generally there aren’t many takers of this theory simply because very few batsmen have the courage to do that in a format as short as this. Wednesday was a partial success since unlike Rohit Sharma, Pandey couldn’t stay till the end of his team’s innings. He lamented that at the post-match press conference too. “Either me, the captain or (Andre Russell) should have stayed till the end,” he said.
But Pandey has got a taste of what could come with a bit of patience in the initial phase of his batting. Now, he is keen to take this route more often. “I will try and stick to this game plan for a long time to try and be consistent. This may take my cricket a step ahead,” he said.