Dambulla [Sri Lanka]: Middle-order batsman Manish Pandey, who has been recalled to the national side for the limited-overs series against Sri Lanka, is all ready to perform and cement his place.
Pandey has not played an ODI since the fifth and final match of the 2016 series against New Zealand in Visakhapatnam. And since then, India have played 13 ODIs.
He was then forced to miss the Indian Premier League (IPL) and the subsequent Champions Trophy held in England.
However, the 26-year-old produced some rich vein of form in the recently concluded ‘A’ series in South Africa. He came out with the scores of 55, 41*, 86*, 93* and 32* and earned a call-up to the national side in place of veteran all-rounder Yuvraj Singh.
And now, the right-handed batsman is looking to continue that form into the Sri Lanka series beginning Sunday at Dambulla.
“Talking about the injury, it was a very sad part because I missed two crucial series-the IPL and the Champions Trophy. But, nevertheless, I was preparing myself. I got a six-week rest,” said Pandey on Friday.
“To come back and play in South Africa and win the series was really important for me. I was very happy with the way I was batting there and I am just trying to keep up the form,” he added.
Pandey, who made his ODI debut against Zimbabwe in 2014, started batting at number four.
Infact, his 104*, which gave India the final bragging rights against Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground, also came at top of the order.
Hence, scores of 4*, 17, 19, 28*, 12 and 0 in the six innings after the SCG carnage forced the team management to exclude him from the Indian side.
In the latter part of his 12-ODI career till now, he was forced to bat down the order. The experiment did not turn out well and he lost his place.
“When I played against Australia, I played at number four. That’s where I have been batting in the ODIs. So, batting at number five or six was a little new for me against New Zealand,” he said.
“It took me some time to get used to that situation and with only 15 overs left in the game where you just can’t do really much. You have to go from ball one. But I have adapted to the situation again and let’s see how it goes this time,” he added.
The middle-order batsman feels that India, having whitewashed Sri Lanka in the Test series, would be brimming with confidence and would like to take their form in the ODI series and the subsequent lone T20 as well.
“What advantage we have is that we have white-washed them in the Test series. So, I think they might be a little down. But, I think this is where we have to focus on. We have to keep playing our cricket well, keep doing our basics right and I think if you do that, we are hoping to get a good ODI series too,” Pandey insisted.
The ODIs will be played on August 20, 24, 27, 31 and September 3, and the T20I on September 6.
The Men in Blue last played ODIs in Sri Lanka in 2012, when Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s team won the five-match series 4-1.
Squad: Virat Kohl (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma (v/c), KL Rahul, Manish Pandey, Ajinkya Rahane, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Shardul Thakur. (ANI)