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Indian Premier League 2021

IPL 2021: The curious case of Manish Pandey

The Hyderabad batsman's inability to finish games has invited the wrath of fans.

IPL 2021: The curious case of Manish Pandey

For two consecutive games, Pandey had the chance to win it for Hyderabad. (File Photo)


Rahul Kargal

Updated: 15 April 2021 8:06 AM GMT

Chasing 149 on the night against RCB, the David Warner and Manish Pandey partnership appeared solid. Hyderabad was on course and Bangalore was searching for a breakthrough.

Warner then fell for 54 and the onus thereafter fell on Pandey.

Until that point, the experienced Pandey looked more than just good. With two sixes and two boundaries, he appeared confident.

Suddenly, as if the carpet was pulled from underneath his legs, his willow refused to co-operate.

For the second successive game, after a solid start, he somehow found a way to dig himself into a hole.

And when he top-edged Shahbaz Ahmed on the very next ball after the Bairstow dismissal, the swords were out.

Soon enough, Pandey began trending on Twitter, for all the wrong reasons.

The butt of internet jokes

A stop-start India career

When Manish Pandey became the first-ever Indian to score an IPL ton over a decade ago, he was hailed as the next big thing in Indian cricket, alongside Virat Kohli.

Yet, while his India U-19 skipper's career soared, his didn't quite take off the tarmac.

That said, Pandey continued to ply his trade for Karnataka in domestic cricket and accumulated bucket loads of runs.

It was only in 2015 - six years after his breakthrough IPL ton at Centurian – that Pandey earned his India cap.

Since then, he's been in and out of the India limited-overs squad.

Every now and then though, he displayed sparks of sheer brilliance - like his knock in January 2016 against hosts Australia when an unbeaten century helped India overhaul 330.

What's next for Manish Pandey?

Soon after his international debut, Pandey battled a visible sense of uncertainty.

While he jostled with Yuvraj Singh for a middle-order spot initially, Shreyas Iyer began nipping at his heels a few years later.

Critics, meanwhile, pointed at the missing chinks in his armoury – the lack of an explosive flourish and a recurring inability to finish games.

There was never any doubt that however, that Pandey was a skill full stroke-maker and a brilliant fielder.

But with the game now demanding a strike rate in excess of 150, Pandey's run-a-ball efforts are soon becoming inadequate.

With Shreyas Iyer, and now Surya Kumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan breaking into the Indian limited-overs squads, the path back to the Indian squad is strewn with roadblocks aplenty for Pandey.

His immediate focus though will be to find a way to finish games for Hyderabad in IPL 2021.

With gifted hand-eye coordination, Pandey has been a vital contributor to Hyderabad in previous IPL campaigns.

That said, after two consecutive nights of agony, he now needs to prove that he can indeed translate his starts into truly game-changing knocks.

Until such time though, the trolls will continue to have a field day.

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