A decade back, Karnataka batsman Manish Pandey was one of the rising young Indian batting stars along with the likes of Virat Kohli (see more Virat Kohli news) and Rohit Sharma. The year 2009 saw him becoming the first Indian to score a century in the Indian T20 league and, thus, the world got to witness what he was truly capable of. He was scoring runs consistently in the domestic circuit as well. Hence, he looked all set to become one of the mainstays of the Indian team in the near future.
However, as fate had it, while Virat Kohli and Rohit had already established their authority as two of the world’s best ODI batsmen by the year 2015, Pandey was still busy trying to make it to the next level. The opportunity did finally arrive during the tour of Zimbabwe later that year. He made 71 on debut and followed that up with a match-winning maiden ODI century in the fifth ODI of his next series against Australia down under. It looked like the first of many such innings that were expected to come off his bat in the time ahead. But those knocks never arrived. After four years and 18 innings since his debut, Pandey has only 440 ODI runs to his name at a middling average of 36.66. Only two fifties followed after that famous outing of 104* at Sydney and, hence, his underperformance with the bat saw him in and out of the team consistently.
He wasn’t a part of India’s 2019 World Cup squad but they have chosen to reinvest their faith in him once again. Pandey had been picked in India’s T20I squad for the recently concluded series against West Indies and also for the upcoming T20I series against South Africa. Looking at these selections, it is safe to say that he is going to be a part of India’s ODI squads in the coming time ahead as well. And the reason behind these selections has been Pandey’s recent performances, both as a batsman and as a India team captain, during recent unofficial (India A and India B matches) ODI series.
In 27 such matches as captain, Pandey has amassed a total of 1425 runs and, that too, at an excellent average of 89.06. That includes five centuries and seven fifties, which makes it a fifty-plus score approximately every two innings. That’s a terrific run of form which saw Pandey flourishing once again with a 59-ball knock of 81 runs for India A in the third unofficial ODI of the five-match series against South Africa A.
In fact, his record against South Africa A reads even better. In 12 innings against them as captain, Pandey has amassed 763 runs at a mammoth average of 127.17. These runs include five fifties and two centuries as well and that gives an idea about how he has bossed these bowling attacks.
So, it is clear how the 29-year-old has flourished as a batsman with the added responsibility of leading the side. While his chances of leading the senior Indian men’s team looking bleak, the responsibility of marshalling India’s misfiring middle-order is still going to be there. It is one of India’s biggest concerns at the moment. The memories of the crushing semi-final loss to New Zealand in the recently concluded World Cup is still fresh in the minds of the Indian fans. The middle-order failed big time and, hence, it needs someone who can shoulder the responsibility. And who better than Pandey, someone who has seen success and failure at close quarters, for that role. He might have failed once but he would be determined this time to cash in on the opportunity, which is coming with his preferred dose of responsibility.
Written by: Prasenjit Dey