The Indian Premier League (IPL) has often been touted as a platform for youngsters to showcase their talent. The likes of Rishabh Pant, Shreyas Iyer and Ajinkya Rahane are a few names out of the many that have risen through the ranks of IPL.
Manish Pandey, who has become a common face in India’s limited-overs squad, is another candidate who rose to limelight on the back of impressive performances in IPL. He also is the first Indian to slam a century in the lucrative T20 league.
Recalling the build-up to that match, Pandey said: “Somebody got injured or we’d lost a couple of games, Anil Kumble was the captain of the team. After the practice session, he comes up and says in Kannada, ‘Are you ready’? Something clicked and I said: ‘Anil bhai, I’m ready for tomorrow’. And then again after two minutes he turned up and said, ‘You might be opening the batting tomorrow’. It was like a small shock to me.”
The right-handed batsman didn’t disappoint his captain and smashed an unforgettable 114* off just 73 deliveries, and Pandey hasn’t looked back since then. “The confidence level, the way I was thinking about the game, all of those little things did change after that hundred. It would have given me immense confidence.”
The Karnataka cricketer acknowledged the influence of current India A coach Rahul Dravid and described his experience playing alongside the former India skipper in Royal Challengers Bangalore.
“When I was a kid, I used to look up to Rahul Dravid. I was always a big fan of his. The way he was disciplined towards his game and life, that was really good,” said Pandey.
“When I was playing Under 19, I used to love to watch him bat. He used to stand in the first slip and I was standing in the second slip (while playing for RCB). That feeling was very surreal,” the batsman added.