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Manish Pandey: Waiting for right opportunity to be counted

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Kolkata Knight Riders’s victory was set-up by Manish Pandey’s stroke-filled 94 © IANS

Very few batsmen are a delight to watch in their early days as Manish Pandey. Despite some key performances, Pandey is yet to be in the reckoning for a national call-up. Abhijit Banare looks whether the stylish batsman is ready to make the cut.

 

Indian Premier League (IPL) has been a delight for young cricketers for two reasons. A) The opportunities that come by and B) Success in IPL can give years of hard work an instant success. After the IPL 7 Final, both Manish Pandey and Wriddhiman Saha must have realized that pretty well. While Saha has safely booked his berth in the Indian team, Manish, after close to five years of toiling atdomestic level, is yet to gain the trust of the selectors.

Rolling back to his early days, Pandey’s first tryst with limelight was the successful India U-19 World Cup campaign which saw the rise of the ‘Next Big Thing in Indian Cricket’ – Virat Kohli. Though Manish made an impressive First-Class debut with two back-to-back half-centuries, his claim to fame came in South Africa where he played a stroke-filled 114 against Deccan Chargers to become the first Indian batsman to score and ton in IPL. He is an invaluable asset to any IPL team and perhaps that prompted him to chase for big money which led to an infamous ban in 2011. But talent was never going to erode away.

 

The innings against Kings XI Punjab in the final, once again proved that Pandey is a big match player. Some his typical wristy flicks were so sweetly timed that was reminiscent of VVS Laxman at his peak. Amidst all the chaos and celebration, it’s so easy to miss the fact that since the last five years, Pandey has taken the leap from a dashing batsman to a matured aggressive batsman. The century innings in 2009 and the one in IPL final stands testament to that. Every batsman slogs it out to make this transformation successfully. But none of it would matter for Pandey if he doesn’t make the transformation from the domestic to the international level.

Does Manish Pandey deserve an India spot?

Skeptics prefer to keep IPL aside while counting the quality of a player. Even then Pandey has done enough to be counted as a reliable player. In the last three of the four domestic seasons, Pandey has averaged over 50 and in 2012-13 he averaged 41.61. And his last domestic season (also a successful one for Karnataka) saw him cross the 1,000-run barrier for the first time. He has been a part of Karnataka’s successful campaign in Ranji Trophy, Irani Trophy, Vijay Hazare Trophy and now an IPL final. The only other person to savour this success is Vinay Kumar, who must have already begun his plans of performing in Bangladesh in two weeks’ time.

Season M Runs Avg
2010-11 10 958 56.35
2011-12 5 349 87.25
2012-13 9 541 41.61
2013-14 15 1059 58.83

Pandey’s hall-mark has been his ability to score freely. He is among the set of batsmen who is difficult to tie down. But his brash style of batting is equally prone to being perceived as taking things casually. As mentioned earlier, he has made the transformation but whether anyone is taking notice of his talent is the key. ‘Talent’ is most associated with Rohit Sharma, a batsman who has already made it to the Test level. Meanwhile, Pandey’s U-19 captain Kohli has become the mainstay of Indian cricket. But the stylish right-hander is yet to be even seen close to an India cap. Sometimes, in the search for the big run-scorers, selectors often miss out on gifted players who are destined to flourish. With kind of form and the temperament that Pandey is playing with, he seems pretty much ready for international cricket. It sounds exaggerating to shower compliments after a classic IPL innings but Pandey’s First-Class records prove that he is very well capable of succeeding in all formats of the game.

Some are rewarded for their talent at an early age while others have to slog it out and wait for their turn. Perhaps Pandey could take a lesson or two from Ajinkya Rahane, who kept piling on runs at the domestic level yet had to wait for a long time till he made it to the Indian team and then wait again to make it to the playing XI regularly!

(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)

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