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Managing crises the Pandey way

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Agarkar: Pandey keeps impressing every IPL (2:21)

Manish Pandey struck a match-winning half century to help KKR beat Delhi Daredevils and get back at the top of the table in IPL 2017 (2:21)

Star turn

There were two stages in Kolkata Knight Riders' chase of 169 when they were in trouble - at the very start and then at the nerve-wracking end. Both times Manish Pandey broke the game open.

He has been given the No. 4 spot this season because KKR have preferred opening with a hitter to partner Gautam Gambhir. As such Pandey had to be prepared for wobbly starts and Monday's was the wobbliest. From losing only five wickets in the Powerplay across four matches, KKR lost three in three overs against Delhi Daredevils. Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa - two of the team's biggest match-winners - were dismissed and 85% of the chase was still left. Pandey had to see it through and so he did, batting sensibly as Yusuf Pathan counterattacked with a half-century, and then taking over the hitting duties towards the end.

The wow moment

It is difficult to rate which of those phases really tested him but, for sheer impact, his six in the last over with the game in the balance stood out.

Pandey had tried to finish things off a little earlier, with a fierce hit meant for the long-on boundary, but it was miraculously intercepted by Sanju Samson. An equation that might have been 9 off 10 balls instead became 13 off 10. Chris Morris finished that over with a dot ball - a yorker that denied Pandey the chance to face the first ball of the final over. Tension rose. Amit Mishra preyed on it, tossing one up outside Chris Woakes' reach and having him stumped.

Nine off four balls now. It was all on Pandey now. The moment he got on strike, he cracked the ball over long-on. Then he coolly blocked one past cover to secure the two remaining runs for victory and soaked in all the applause from a great vantage point: Darren Bravo, a grateful team-mate, lifted Pandey off his feet.

Stats that matter

  • This was only the fourth time in 10 IPL seasons that a team has successfully chased a target after losing three wickets inside three overs

  • It was the first time that KKR's No. 4 and No. 5 batsmen had hit fifties in the same innings

  • With his 69 not out, Pandey pushed his runs tally to 221 this season. That is also his average because he has been dismissed only once in four innings.

What they said

"Great fielding effort by Samson. Zak's funky and shrewd captaincy almost won it for DD, but wonderful composure from Manish Pandey."
Former India batsman Mohammad Kaif, on Twitter, sets up some of the things Manish Pandey had to overcome

"What a finisher this Manish Pandey is. And what a calm head!"
Harsha Bhogle, on Twitter