India Tour of Sri Lanka – Manish Pandey: Those who have seen Manish Pandey grow as a batsman, run by run, have had no doubt that he was destined to be one of the best batsmen India has produced. His style of play, maturity to play according to situations and brilliant fielding skills helped him climb up the ranks quickly to make his India debut in 2015 at 24 years of age. But so far, the Karnataka captain has been in and out of Team India, never managing to cement his place. With India touring Sri Lanka with its white-ball specialists, Pandey will have another chance and probably the last one. His childhood coach Irfan Sait believes, this time he will grab the opportunity with both hands.
“Manish Pandey is a fierce competitor. He loves the challenges. The more the challenges, the better he will apply himself and work harder. I think if Manish is given a fair chance, Indian selectors will be hard-pressed for his choice. If he gets a fair opportunity, he can display his talent and I am very, very optimistic that he will do extremely well,” Irfan Sait, Manish Pandey’s coach for over two decades told InsideSport.co in an exclusive chat.
India Tour of Sri Lanka: Manish Pandey, who began as an opener, transformed into a middle-order batsman who plays according to situations extremely well. Be it his unbeaten 114 off just 73 balls for Deccan Chargers back in IPL 2009 or a match-winning 104-run knock off 81 balls against Australia in Sydney in 2016, when India lost two quick wickets, Pandey has displayed his immense potential. But for India, he has never received a long run in a series.
- India in Zimbabwe 3 ODIs (2015): Pandey played only 1 match
- India in Australia 5 ODIs (2016): Pandey played only 2 innings
- India in Zimbabwe 5 ODIs (2016): Pandey played only 1 match
- New Zealand in India 5 ODIs: (2016-17): Pandey played all five, wasn’t successful
- India in Sri Lanka 5 ODIs (2017): Pandey played only 2, averaged 86.00 average
- Australia in India 5 ODIs (2017): Pandey played all, wasn’t successful
- Sri Lanka in India 3 ODIs (2017): Pandey batted only 1
- Asia Cup 2018: 6 ODIs (2018): Pandey played only 1 match
- Australia in India 3 ODIs (2019-20): Pandey played only 2, faced just 8 balls
- India in New Zealand 3 ODIs (2019-20): Pandey played only 1, scored 42
Since 2015, Pandey has been part of a total of 10 ODI series. In those, in only two that he has played all the matches. But he has never played at the same position, rotating between No 4 and 6. Considering that, he has still managed to score 492 runs from 21 innings at an average of 35.14 with a strike rate of 91.96. In T20Is, it is not different. He has played 33 innings in 39 matches, scoring 709 runs at an average of 44.31 and a strike rate of 126.15.
“First of all, I think we need to be fair to Manish. He has sat out of more number of matches than he has played in. he has never got to bat at a fixed position anywhere. If he is given a free run, I think he would be another big star in the Indian setup. He has been a bit unlucky you can say as he has never got a steady batting order and he has never got a good run. He has hardly played a full series where he can exhibit his talent and potential,” Irfan Sait said.
India Tour of Sri Lanka: While Manish Pandey started out as an opener, even in IPL, he slowly transformed into a middle-order batsman. With India struggling to find a reliable No 4 and testing various options including Pandey, MS Dhoni, Ambati Rayudu, Vijay Shankar amongst many others, none could cement the place as the trial by fire went on. The current situation isn’t very different but the Team management has relied on Shreyas Iyer more than others.
But for Pandey, chances weren’t aplenty even though he was touted to be a specialist No 4. He was completely overlooked for the 2019 World Cup. But with the ICC T20 World Cup around the corner and Shreyas Iyer still nursing an injury, Manish Pandey has a got a lifeline that he deserves. But with the past record in Team India, it could be his last chance to impress selectors and cement his place. He will be under the tutelage of coach Rahul Dravid, who has seen him grow as a player and is expected to get the best out of him.
“If he is given a fair chance, it will be very difficult to keep a player like Manish Pandey out because he is not just a batsman, he is an outstanding fielder too. I think Manish will be very, very special provided he bats well,” Irfan Sait told InsideSport.co from Bengaluru.