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Four years ago, a young Indian teenager at the Centurion in South Africa took the cricketing world by surprise with his mesmerizing stroke-play and ability to clear the ground with ease.
A 19-year old Manish Pandey, who was still taking baby steps in the cricketing world, had scored a century under testing conditions, becoming the first Indian player to register a ton in the IPL.
The result, Manish was touted as the next big thing straightaway and was taken to the pinnacle of accolades. Four years on, things have not gone according to plan for Manish Pandey as he is yet finding his feet in the gentleman’s game and looking to improve every time he has a bat in his hands.
“It is the kind of highs and lows like these that help you become a better cricketer” said Manish Pandey who spoke to IPLT20.com after a satisfying match-winning knock of 66 for thePune Warriors India on Wednesday. In this exclusive chat, the 23-year old talks about his knock against KKR, the lessons he has learnt from his personal ebb and the talks with Yuvraj Singh that made him mentally strong.
Here is an account of the interview:
PWI have been through a lot this season and to get a match-winning knock should be special!
Yes, definitely. It is difficult to be together as a unit especially when you are losing so many games. The feeling for me to get a match-winning knock under the circumstances is completely different. The atmosphere in the dressing room after the win is really amazing. It was a good knock that helped the team get through. I planned my innings well on Wednesday. I paced it really well. I got a flurry of boundaries in some of the overs which gave me the confidence to play well. I enjoyed my knock.
You got the runs on the board, but did you think that your team could lose when Yusuf Pathan was going great guns in the run chase?
We were under pressure when Yusuf Pathan was striking the ball so well, but we had one thing in mind that we would never give up. We fought till the last ball and I am glad we registered a good win.
What is your view of Yusuf’s run-out incident? TV replays showed Yusuf had a word with you while going back saying he did not do it intentionally?
I just told him we were lucky to get a decision like that, which made a difference to the game. I told him well played. It was a fantastic knock by Yusuf. He almost won the game for KKR.
Personally, not the best of IPL seasons for you. Was it a different challenge for you to perform?
It is a little difficult mentally, but these are challenges that you have to get through and this was one of that. I had to keep my calm and be really hard working off the field, in the nets, which I did day in and day out and I think it gave me results against KKR.
What did you tell yourself before the match?
I was thinking about it last night. I was sitting in my room alone and I had a few thoughts about my batting. I was just thinking that I had to make the most of the two games remaining. I got a 29 in the last match, and was feeling good about my batting going into this game. I told myself that I need to get runs which will keep me in good stead for the future. I prepared myself mentally for the challenge and eventually it paid off.
You were the talk of the town when you scored a century in IPL season 2. Things have not really gone your way over the last couple of years. What have you learnt from such highs and lows?
When you are on a high, one has to realise that you have to come low at some point of time. There are times when things will not go your way, when you have to push a little harder than normal. There were times when I could not perform well, which was a bog down moment for me. I had to come up by being hard on myself, since taking it easy would not have helped. I had to fight back and things went well for me. Such experiences prepare you for the tough days to come. They count a lot and it gets you stronger.
Have you had talks about your batting with your PWI teammate Yuvraj Singh?
Yuvraj is one of the icons in the team. He is a great motivator. He is someone who helps everybody. He has spoken to me about my batting and the most effective thing he told me was to be calm in the head and focus on the game. He asked me to be mentally strong and I am working towards that.
The IPL dream for the Kolkata Knight Riders is over. All hopes of repeating last year’s magic and getting a sneak into the last four of the competition went down as a series of errors on the field cost KKR a crucial encounter against the Pune Warrriors India in Ranchi.
From a point where KKR were deemed favorites to win the match after a 98-run partnership between Yusuf Pathan and Ryan ten Doeschate, few would have thought that the Knights would go down losing and ultimately bow out of the tournament.
A bizarre dismissal off Yusuf Pathan, who was out ‘obstructing the field’ in the eighteenth over of the match, was arguably the game changing moment.
“We have ourselves to blame for the loss. We lost the game with three pieces of bad running,” said Ryan ten Doeschate to IPLT20.com after a heart-wrenching seven-run loss.
Yusuf and ten Doeschate were going great guns as victory was in sight. Then the duo misjudged a run in the sixteenth over and Doeschate had to depart after scoring a 30-ball 42.
“The run-out essentially cost us the game, but even after my run-out, Yusuf was still going great guns. He then got himself run-out as well and it is very disappointing to lose a game like that. I would certainly say it was the turning point of the game,” added the all-rounder.
Disappointing it must be for sure as KKR had almost chased down 171 with ease. The wicket according to the all-rounder was playing well and the team always backed itself to get those runs even after losing three early wickets. The plan for Yusuf and Doeschate during the chase was simple.
“We did not want the run-rate to steep up to thirteen an over and decided to keep it at close to ten runs an over which we backed ourselves to get. We were looking for boundaries right from the word go since it was a good wicket to bat on. We needed 49 off the last five and you always back yourselves to win such games with two set batsmen at the crease. Everything went according to the plan, except that we lost it in the last few overs,” expressed Doeschate.
With this loss, KKR’s hopes of defending the title have been shattered and they have one match to play for pride. It has been a topsy-turvy ride for KKR and many have blamed their marquee players for not having scored runs consistently. Yusuf Pathan was on that list, but he finally came good with a 44-ball 72 to almost take his side home. Too late in the tournament it might have been, but Doeschate felt Yusuf was still one of the most dangerous batsmen in the IPL.
“Yusuf hits the ball cleanly and everyone knows that. He is a dangerous player and no one likes to bowl to him. He has not got the runs that he would have wanted this season, but every time he is out there in the middle you feel that energy and you feel that he has the ability to smash the best bowlers out of the park. It is just about him doing it more often and he will be one of the most destructive batsmen in the IPL.”