Manish Pandey hails IPL impact for call-up
On May 21, 2009, a 20-year-old Manish Pandey, playing for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL, pummelled a Deccan Chargers bowling attack which included Ryan Harris, Andrew Symonds and Pragyan Ojha, as he went on to become the first Indian centurion in the competition.
While Pandey's form in the IPL remained consistent - he has scored 1346 runs combined for four teams - a national call-up did not immediately materialise. But when it eventually did, more than five years later, Pandey was quick to praise the positive impact that the IPL had on his career.
"It [IPL] definitely helped. As a batsman, you look to be consistent every game and win matches for your team," Pandey told ESPNcricinfo. "This year, even my first-class experience was very good, as I scored a lot of runs and backed it up with a good IPL and Champions League. Being consistent is why I think I've gotten this call-up. The IPL has done a lot of good and gave me a lot of confidence. We play with some of the best players in the world and we get to learn a lot. We get used to the pressure, and learn how to deal with other players."
Pandey, who helped Kolkata Knight Riders to their second IPL title with a 50-ball 94 in the final against Kings XI Punjab, also played a key role for Karnataka last season. He scored 729 runs in the Ranji Trophy at 48.60 with three hundreds and three fifties, as Karnataka went on to claim the title. Pandey hoped the first-class experience would eventually pave the way for a Test debut.
"As a batsman, playing Test cricket is my goal. I love the challenges when you play with the red ball, as it requires a lot more focus. I love batting in those conditions, and my runs would attest to that.
"It will hopefully be a good season for Karnataka again. We need to maintain the same standard of performances, and look to work harder and bag the Ranji Trophy again."
Pandey, who cites Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid as his two idols, said he was disappointed not to make his international debut earlier, but that he was now fully focused on the immediate task at hand, which is to beat West Indies and secure the ODI series.
"I expected the call-up to come sooner and would've loved to play a couple of years ago," he said. "But I've matured a lot over the years and played a lot more cricket. I'm ready for the games. West Indies are a good team, but as Indians, we need to be aware of how strong we are. We are looking to win both the ODIs and the T20. I'm not nervous, as I've played with or against most of the players in the team. I think it will be good fun and a great experience for me."