Manish Pandey will be one of the players boarding the plane to Sri Lanka as part of India’s new-look limited-overs squad.
Pandey has spent considerable time on the sidelines. He was a notable absentee when India played England earlier this year, and last donned the Indian blue in December 2020 in the first T20I against Australia. His last ODI was against New Zealand in February 2020.
In an exclusive interaction with Sportskeeda, Irfan Sait, Pandey's coach from his time at the Karnataka Institute of Cricket (KIOC), said he hoped the 31-year-old would get his fair share of opportunities in Sri Lanka.
“I am only hoping and praying that he has a fair run. If he gets a settled batting order and a series of matches to play, he will be in a great position to show his skills."
“Manish Pandey is a competitor and he is always ready for any combat. He’s so skillful. If you look at his track record, whether it is a four-day Ranji Trophy game, a T20 game or an ODI, he’s been up to it. He’s done very very well for our state.”
Manish Pandey should bat at No. 4: Sait
Pandey has consistently been shunted up and down the batting order and Sait believes the No. 4 spot would be ideal for the 31-year-old.
“As a junior, he was always opening the batting. But given the scenario in senior cricket, and the Karnataka side, he has been fantastic at No. 3, 4 and 5. (Batting) at No.4 would be ideal, but he is good at any one of these positions (sic).”
A young Manish Pandey was far ahead of his seniors: Sait
Sait, who has witnessed Manish Pandey’s evolution first hand, recalled an incident that first shone the spotlight on his former charge.
"He played an innings for our second division Jawans Cricket Club and he was only 14-and-a-half or 15 at the time. I had a whole lot of seniors playing in the same club, and we were gunning for a championship so that we could get promoted and come to the first division.”
“When all others were struggling, this young kid scored 155 and helped us win the game. And those runs came in about 80 balls. Even in a side that had Ranji players, he was far ahead of them even at that age.”
India squad vs Sri Lanka
Shikhar Dhawan (Captain), Prithvi Shaw, Devdutt Padikkal, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Suryakumar Yadav, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Nitish Rana, Ishan Kishan (Wicket-keeper), Sanju Samson (Wicket-keeper), Yuzvendra Chahal, Rahul Chahar, K Gowtham, Krunal Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Varun Chakravarthy, Bhuvneshwar Kumar (Vice-captain), Deepak Chahar, Navdeep Saini, Chetan Sakariya
Net Bowlers: Ishan Porel, Sandeep Warrier, Arshdeep Singh, Sai Kishore, Simarjeet Singh