Aakash Chopra believes Manish Pandey will have to score a century to strengthen his case for a long-term middle-order spot in the Indian team.
Manish Pandey has had sporadic stints in the Indian limited-overs team over the years. Having made his debut as far back as July 2015, he has played just 28 ODIs to date.
In a video shared on his YouTube channel, Aakash Chopra opined that Manish Pandey faces an uphill task to retain his spot in the Indian ODI team unless he comes up with a significant knock. He said:
"Pandey ji will have to score a century in the last match if he has to strengthen his case. Manish Pandey is on a slightly slippery slope. He is a good player, we all like him because he gives his 110 percent whenever he is on the field, puts in the dives, he is a gun fielder, one of the best that India has."
While observing that Manish Pandey has given a decent account of himself in both ODIs against Sri Lanka, the former Indian opener criticized him for throwing away his wicket in the first match. Chopra elaborated:
"He has batted okay in both ODIs, he did get out playing a bad shot in the first ODI. That is something I felt bad about because he has been given the No.4 position in the Indian ODI batting lineup, no one gets it because there is such a long list of good players, it is enough even if you get to play and if you get, it is at No.5 or No.6."
"The expectation is that Manish Pandey scores runs in the 3rd match" - Aakash Chopra
While acknowledging that Manish Pandey had an extremely unlucky dismissal in the second ODI, Aakash Chopra hoped that the Karnataka batsman would be amongst the runs in the third and final encounter. He observed:
"In the second innings, he was so unfortunate that you and I can't really complain. The expectation is that he scores runs in the third match and consolidates his position. He has done just about enough that you will keep his name in the reckoning but the road ahead is not easy."
The 43-year-old signed off by highlighting that both Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan have outshone Manish Pandey in the series thus far and that there are very limited spots available in the Indian lineup currently. Chopra explained:
"The player who came after him, 31 not out in the first match and more than fifty in the second match. The player who went above him scored fifty in the first match and got dismissed in the second match. When you have a fight like that and Shreyas Iyer is sitting out, he will also come. Rahul, Rohit, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli - these four anyways play, Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya - there are very few places."
Manish Pandey will certainly struggle to make it into a full-strength Indian limited-overs squad at the moment. However, a match-defining knock in the final ODI against Sri Lanka will keep him in the mix.
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