India batsman Manish Pandey on Monday (March 26) opened up about his batting position in the national setup, saying that he is ready is to bat at different positions as per the need of the team. Having made his international debut back in 2015, Manish has so far batted at No. 4, 5 and even sixth spot this season.
While the constant adjustment hasn't done any favour to Pandey, the tougher task for him is to warm the bench for the majority of one day internationals. He didn’t get a chance to exhibit his talent in the six-match ODI series against South Africa in February, but made a resounding comeback in the T20I series. Manish registered the scores of 29*, 79* and 13 in three T20Is against the Proteas and followed it up with 134 runs in 4 matches during the recently concluded Nidahas Twenty20 tri-series.
“When you bat at No. 4 in ODIs, on many occasions you get about 30-35 overs in the middle. At No.5 it is around 20-25 and if you come lower down, the time in the middle is very less. It is a challenge to adjust and move in that fashion. That said, I will bat at whatever position the team requires me to. I just go out there and do what I'm expected to,” Manish Pandey said in an exclusive interview with TOI.
When asked how tough it is to stay motivated after being sat out for a series of ODI games, the 28-year-old stated: “It is tough because you know when you are batting well. Also when you are waiting for your chance you don't know which game you'll get a chance. But given the competition in the team there was nothing I could do. So, I focused on doing things which were in my control - like training, working on my fitness. It is mentally disturbing but that is part of team sport. That said, sitting out is not something I like.”
Manish was named in the original 15-member squad for the last year’s Champions Trophy in England. Unfortunately, he got injured and missed the bus. Subsequently, he proved his mettle in the India 'A' series against South Africa 'A' to regain his place in the ODI side.
“Sitting out of Champions Trophy due to an injury was hard on me. But I had no option. I didn't make it to the West Indies series after that as well since I wasn't fully fit. The India 'A' tour was a good tournament. We won the series and I was the highest run-getter. It was a confidence booster to know that I am back in form after an injury lay-off,” he asserted.
As far as Pandey’s ODI journey is concerned – it has been a mix of some unadulterated brilliance and inconsistent run of scores. The young batter grabbed eyeballs of the cricketing fraternity when he scored that fabulous match-winning hundred against Australia in Sydney at the start of 2016. However, some poor outings in 2016 home season have resulted in him being axed from the playing XI. In 22 ODIs thus far, Pandey has scored 432 runs at an average of 39.27 with 2 fifties and 1 century while he has aggregated 494 runs in 23 T20Is at an average and strike-rate of 41.16 and 127.31 respectively.
“I'm getting better and I'm taking one game at a time. The last couple of tournaments have been good for me. Whenever I've got a chance I've tried to stay at the wicket for a longer period of time. I believe one of my strengths is to play the anchor role in the middle, especially since I've been batting at number five. That has been working for me,” Manish said.
During the IPL auction in January, Pandey was roped in by Sunrisers Hyderabad for a whopping sum of 11 crores. He has earlier represented Royals Challengers Bangalore, Kolkata Knight Riders, Pune Warriors and Mumbai Indians in the cash-rich league.
“It was an inevitable change. I am looking forward to playing for Sunrisers Hyderabad because it is a good team with good people. I think it will be nice to learn something new from a different franchise. I'm looking forward to working with (VVS) Laxman bhai. He has been helping a lot of players, so I see this as a good opportunity to go and learn from him,” Manish Pandey concluded.