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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.