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Making it to the national side is every budding talent s dream, and out of thousands hallucinating about it, just handful manages to make it come true. In a cricket-fanatical country like India, the job of making it to the national side is no less than a herculean one. Cricketers leave no stones unturned in their preparations and put their bottom dollar to represent India, such is the legacy of playing for the country. The chances are rare and come after a lot of hard work but one just can t afford to step a foot wrong when it is there to be grabbed as one s failure is someone else s opportunity. India s endowed right-handed batsman, Manish Pandey, floundered many opportunities in the just concluded One-Day International (ODI) series against New Zealand and have squandered a golden opportunity to cement his spot in the side. Full Cricket Scorecard, India vs New Zealand, 5th ODI

India won the five-match series by 3-2 after winning the series decider convincingly by 190 runs at Visakhapatnam. Indian batting was not up to the mark and it would be safe to say that they were too reliant on Virat Kohli. In fact, India lost both the games when Kohli failed to yield runs from his willow. The final encounter saw India posting a respectable 269 on the board after which Amit Mishra wrecked havoc with his artistry bowling. While batting, Pandey walked in at five, which was an also a delicate situation as another wicket would have put India in pressure.

Kohli, who was timing the ball sweetly and garnering runs at a good pace was at the other end and all Pandey had to do was to rotate the strike. His primary job was to get Kohli back on strike and let him take most of the strike and get his eyes in. But he failed to do so as he threw his wicket away for a duck while attempting a big stroke early on in the innings. Pandey endeavoured a slog sweep to one which turned away from him off Ish Sodhi. The leather took a healthy top-edge and failed to clear the boundary as Trent Boult safely caught it at mid-wicket boundary. As a matter of fact, Pandey was also beaten by turn on the previous delivery by Sodhi, which could have well given him an idea of the nature of the surface.

This was a big blow for India as Pandey along with Kohli could have stitched a brisk partnership. India slipped down to four men down and the pressure was on Kohli to deliver. More importantly, it was a futile stroke and wasn t needed considering the present scenario of the game. Pandey didn t have a decent run in the previous encounters and was well aware of the fact that he needed to make the most of this final opportunity of the series and play an impactful knock.

It s a fact that India were not playing their full strength with Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul out due to injury. Their return to the squad will put at least couple of player s participation in jeopardy. It wouldn t be wrong to say that the competition to bat in the middle-order will come down between Pandey, Ajinkya Rahane and Kedar Jadhav. While Jadhav has been noteworthy with his surprising all-around contributions, Rahane, on the other hand, has also been a tad better than Pandey. It s a rat race and survival of the fittest, Pandey has certainly not justified the repository of selector s faith.

It wasn t for the lack of technique but definitely for lack of temperament that Pandey didn t mane to come out in flying colours in the series. His approach is aggressive and tailor-made for this format. He has done extremely well in the domestic circuits but the lack of temperament and inability to assess the situation and alter his game accordingly has often taken a heavy toll on him. It s true that most of the wickets fallen in ODIs happen due to batsman s mistake but Pandey gifted his wicket on most of the occasions in the series. In the entire five-match series, Pandey just managed to collect just 76 runs at an awful average of 19. This is certainly not expected from a player of Pandey s calibre.

In the first encounter at Dharamsala, he walked in to bat when India needed 129 runs in a low-scoring game. He got a good start and looked extremely comfortable with Kohli at the other hand. He tried to whip one from Sodhi over mid-wicket but only managed to pick Kane Williamson at the said position. One of the easiest dismissals of the game Pandey looked dejected and could not believe what he has done. He was out for 17.

The Delhi game was a situation where India needed Pandey to fire and was a perfect platform for him to stamp his authority but it wasn t to be. In a bid to earn a double, Pandey fell short was run out for 19; once again a good start was in shambles. The only moment of glory for him was the third encounter at Mohali where he was unbeaten on 28 and finished off the game once again with Kohli at the other end. This was the moment when Pandey gave a glimpse of being gradually developed into a finisher as MS Dhoni elevated himself in the batting order, which paid off.

Pandey lost his wicket in the Ranchi game while trying to clear the infield but some brilliance from Tom Latham at mid-on pulled curtains to his run. Pandey didn t struggle; in fact, he looked good on most of the occasions but failed terribly to convert. Pandey is a prolific run-scorer at the domestic level and has testified his abilities at this level as well but his bare runs column in this series will certainly haunt him for a while. If he is the answer to India s new finisher, then he has to pull up and make his chances count.

(Suraj Choudhari is a reporter with Criclife and CricketCountry. He is an avid follower of the game, and plays the sport at club level. He has a radical understanding about the subtle nuances and intricacies of cricket, and tries to express it through paper and pen.)