India has such a talent pool that they can afford to play at least 3 quality international sides. Breaking into the Indian ODI middle-order is a task and KL Rahul’s indifferent form in the ODI series can be the door of opportunity for his state-mate Manish Pandey. Pandey, who amassed 307 runs and was only dismissed once in India A’s successful tour of South Africa, got an opportunity in the fourth ODI at R Premadasa Stadium on Thursday. He grabbed it tight and slammed an unbeaten fifty as India finished with 375 and notched up another convincing victory over Sri Lanka to go up 4-0. He also heaped praises on his former captain MS Dhoni. ALSO READ: Virat Kohli to MS Dhoni: ‘You will always be our captain’

“It definitely does really help a lot when you know that you have some runs in the bank. You know you will eventually get a chance in the ODI side and you have to wait patiently for the chance. When you get it, you just bat the way you have been batting. Through the India A series, I batted very similar to the way I batted today. So it was not too different for me to come back. I have been batting well in the nets and I just had to watch the ball and play,” Pandey added.

He shared a 74-ball 101-run stand for sixth wicket with the man on focus, Dhoni, who was appearing in his 300th ODI. Heaping praises for his former captain, Pandey told reporters after an emphatic win, “I have played a few games with [Dhoni] already now, and I know how he plays. I know how he likes to rotate strike. I like to bat with somebody who loves to do that. Occasionally we get some boundaries and that’s how we keep the scoreboard ticking. With Mahi bhai, you are always on your toes and he keeps giving you advice.”

Earlier, centurions Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma added 219 for the second wicket and Pandey came in the 35th over at No.6. With the run-rate soaring high, he took his time and started watchfully before opening out and registering his fifty.

“I had a chat with Ravi [Shastri] yesterday and even today before the start of the game, about how I take some time before I start playing my natural game. I need to take at least six to 10 balls to know what the wicket is like. It was spinning a bit, when the middle order got out. There were wickets falling on the other side but I had to keep my calm and rotate the strike. Eventually it came off for me,” Pandey explained.