MS Dhoni and Manish Pandey    AFP
MS Dhoni and Manish Pandey AFP

India were struggling at 90 for 4 against South Africa in the 2nd T20I on Wednesday and looked like they would be restricted to a modest total. Manish Pandey rose to the occasion and made 48-ball 79. He received immense support from MS Dhoni, who also scored 28-ball 52. Dhoni and Pandey’s unbeaten 98-run stand took India’s total to 188. However, their fifties went in vain as South Africa kept the three-match T20I series alive, defeating India by 6 wickets.

Pandey was sidelined for the entire six-match ODI series. He returned for the T20Is in Johannesburg where he could not create much impact. However, he announced himself at Centurion in a timely fashion. In his post match conference, Pandey relished the opportunity to play alongside Dhoni and also spoke about his position in the current Indian squad.

On his knock and partnership with Dhoni: The wicket was a little slow and we thought the bowlers will bowl a lot slower, off cutters and all. Mahi is the best when he bats lower down the order, takes a couple of overs and looks to dominate and that s what happened. I thought the South African cricket team bowled well. It is just that a couple of inside edges went to the boundary and some great shots by Mahi took us to 188, but SA bowled fairly well.

On stepping into the shoes of Yuvraj, Raina and likes: The people who have batted at No. 5 before me have been guys like Raina, Yuvraj. To step into their shoes is a little tough but it has been a couple of years until now that the Indian batting line-up is doing really well. I think you have to be very patient for your chances.

On his batting positions: Most of the times I got chances at No. 4, I delivered. But the batting combination sometimes pushes me down to No. 5. I have tried my bit but I also feel that I could also probably do a little bit more with myself. As you know, India have a really good line up and the top 3 bat till 30-35 overs. But yeah, some more chances and I wish I could deliver more. And I feel I can deliver a lot more than what I am doing right now.

On being in and out of the team: Honestly it s a little tough and it works on your mind a lot. Especially on this tour, I have felt it a lot actually. But you have to wait your chances, especially playing for a team like India when you have so many stars and legends after legends in the line-up.