Manish Pandey admits need to ‘do more’ for longer run in Indian cricket team

Manish Pandey’s 79 off 48 balls helped India post a challenging total, and though India lost in the second T20, he pressed his case for a regular spot in the middle order for ODIs, where India are yet to find someone of calibre.

cricket Updated: Feb 22, 2018 19:41 IST
Khurram Habib
Khurram Habib
Hindustan Times, Cape Town
India vs SOuth Africa,South Africa vs India,Manish Pandey
Manish Pandey scored a half-century during the second India vs South T20 in on Wednesday.(AFP)

At 28, Pandey is no spring chicken. He has been around for almost as long as Virat Kohli. Incidentally, he first broke into limelight in 2009 at Centurion. The then 19-year-old scored a century in the Indian Premier League that had been shifted to South Africa due to national elections. (IND v SA 2nd T20 highlights)

It was the first IPL hundred by an Indian player, for Royal Challengers Bangalore against the now-defunct Deccan Chargers, who went on to become champions. (IND v SA 2nd T20 full scorecard)

Much was expected of him after that. But somehow he didn’t break through. He got his ODI and T20 opportunities only in 2015. And since then he has been in and out of the India sides though he has played some good knocks.

READ | Manish Pandey says lack of consistency the reason for him being in and out of side

Pandey shot to limelight again in 2016 as he struck a century to take India to a consolation win over Australia in the final ODI at Sydney.

He was left frustrated on Wednesday night after another innings of substance in the second T20 against South Africa in Centurion ended in a losing cause. His 79 off 48 balls helped India post a challenging total, and though India lost, he pressed his case for a regular spot in the middle order for ODIs, where India are yet to find someone of calibre.

READ | MS Dhoni sheds ‘Captain Cool’ moniker, gives Manish Pandey an earful in Centurion

“Sometimes I feel that (not got enough chances) because I bat at No 5. Most of the times when I got chance at No 4, I delivered. The batting combination sometimes pushes me down to No 5. I have tried, but I feel I could also probably do a bit more with myself. As you know, India have a good line up and the top 3 bat till 30-35 overs and with Mahi coming ahead of me. But yeah, some more chances and I wish I could deliver more. And I feel I can deliver a lot more than what I am doing right now,” he said after the loss.

Asked if he ever feels it is one step forward and two backward, Pandey said, “Especially on this tour, I have felt a lot (like that) actually.”

READ | MS Dhoni shows glimpses of a master finisher in 2nd India-South Africa T20

Pandey’s innings took the pressure off Dhoni, who was his old self after a long time. Amidst doubts over whether he can still finish games or provide the late fillip, Dhoni showed he is still India’s best bet in that role.

Throughout the ODI series and even last year, it had seemed Dhoni, while playing a steady hand, was no longer good at accelerating.

Part of the reason, it appears, has been a shaky middle order, which has left Dhoni confused over his role. On Wednesday, as Pandey arrested the slide after India again looked like wasting a good start, Dhoni was in his elements, scoring at a strike rate of over 185. It has been a long time since Dhoni had such a strike rate in a substantial knock (52 no – 28 balls).

After making 24 off 18, and giving Pandey the strike, Dhoni opened up in the last two overs, taking 11 runs off Chris Morris and then ripping apart Dane Paterson by taking 17 runs in the final over.

Asked about Dhoni’s knock, Pandey said, “Just that Mahi woke up, that was his chance. He is the best when he bats lower down the order, takes a couple of overs and looks to dominate and that’s what happened.”

First Published: Feb 22, 2018 19:40 IST