Manish Pandey: India's best option to bat at number 4?
Batting at number 4, when Manish Pandey smashed a scintillating century in Australia to help India chasing a daunting total of 330 runs, it looked like India had found the right man to bear the burden of the stearing the middle order.
In that innings, Manish played like a tailor-made number 4 batsman. He was aggressive in a controlled manner, scoring 104 off 81 balls that consisted just 38 runs of the boundaries. Since the conclusion of the World Cup 2015, he is the only Indian to score a century away from home while batting at number four.
In an ODI game, the number 4 batsman has to be someone who is great at strike rotating rather than big hitting. In the middle overs, it is essential to keep the pace of the game moving and not to lose wickets in haste.
The likes of Ambati Rayudu, Rishabh Pant or even MS Dhoni are good strikers of the ball but have been ordinary in rotating the strike. This approach tends to create pressure and the match would invariably begin to slip at an important stage. Manish Pandey seems to have these qualities in his batting; he is someone who values his wicket hugely and can bat with a good strike rate, without playing too aggressive shots.
Manish Pandey has the strike rate of close to 92 in ODI cricket, but he has scored only 38% of his runs with the boundaries. These numbers are the indicator of his ability to pace the innings without taking any risk. With a star-studded top three India has, batsman like him can capitalize on the starts that the top 3 invariably provide.
Among all batsmen India have tried at number 4 in away conditions since the conclusion of the last World Cup, Manish Pandey wins the race statistically. He has the best average and strike rate among 10 competitors, including the likes of MS Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh among others. With the upcoming World Cup is set to be played in overseas conditions, these statistics of Pandey enhances his chance for the playing XI.
While chances have been few and far between in international cricket, he has consistently shown his abilities in the List A cricket. In List A cricket, he has scored 4504 runs at 43.30 with a healthy strike rate of 91.34. Point to be noted again is that he has scored 55 percent runs with strike rotation. 35 scores of above fifty in 131 innings signal that he has been consistent in his efforts.
His fielding artistry enhances the idea to have him in the playing XI, as he is someone who can turn the match even on the field. Manish has proved that he is a great athlete and is someone who can save a lot of run on the field. A fantastic run in the IPL could possibly see him board the plane to England!