Diligent Manish Pandey stakes claim for finisher's role
Lately, Manish Pandey's presence on national assignments has merely been limited to that of a tactical fielding substitute and a perpetual water-boy. Despite performing rather consistently in the domestic arena and unofficial games, Pandey's name has frequently eluded India's team sheets. However, Sri Lanka's abysmal show in Indore allowed Virat Kohli the luxury to test his bench strength in Pune's joust.
Following KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan's marvelous half-centuries, India stumbled upon roadblocks as Lakshan Sandakan and Wanindu Hasaranga breached through the formidable middle order. Pandey, eyeing resurgence, couldn't have asked for a better opportunity to remind people of his existence.
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The talented right-hander drilled Lahiru Kumara's juicy half-volley through covers before unleashing an imperious swat-pull. Despite losing his skipper, Pandey ensured India didn't concede any momentum whatsoever. Having crunched Lasith Malinga's slower delivery through backward point, Pandey nailed Kumara's attempted bouncer towards mid-wicket. Meanwhile, Shardul Thakur illustrated his range-hitting prowess, leaving the crowd enthralled. The whirlwind finishing cameos propelled India to 201/6, a total daunting enough for Sri Lanka's insipid batting unit.
"Coaches told me somewhere down the line I will get a game and I have to be ready for it. Luckily, I got my chance today and got a good partnership with Shardul. I will keep pushing. I have been batting well in domestic cricket, Syed Mushtaq Ali was good for me as well as Karnataka. I was batting well in the nets as well, somewhere I knew, I will get my chance and I have to be ready. I had to deliver and I did. I have been working on my off-side game in the nets and these things help you in the matches too," an optimistic Pandey reflected after the match.
Pandey would later go on to make his debut on Yuzvendra Chahal's freewheeling chat show 'Chahal TV' and engage in some light-hearted banter. "It felt like I was playing after a long time and I am happy to contribute to the side's winning cause," Pandey expressed.
Even though it's just a one-off display, Pandey would now expect more chances from the team management, yearning to spend more time on the field than on the sidelines. Because warming the bench definitely isn't his favorite pastime.