Manish Pandey, the Royal Challengers batsman who on Thursday became the first Indian to hit an IPL century, has said it was the faith shown in him by captain Anil Kumble and coach Ray Jennings that helped him come good.
"In the team meeting Kumble told me that I would open the innings. He said the track looked good and no matter how badly I played I would still score good runs," he told the IPL's official website after his unbeaten 114 against Deccan Chargers sealed Bangalore's place in the semi-finals. "Jennings told me to play my natural game. He told me not to fear failure and to have fun in the centre."
The match against Deccan was the first substantial chance for Pandey to showcase his talent, after barely getting any time in the middle in his previous two games this season. "It is just the part of the game that sometime you get a chance to play and sometimes you don't. Thankfully today I got my chance and I think I did well."
Pandey, a member of the Under-19 World Cup-winning side of 2008, was dropped on 2 by RP Singh and capitalised on the opportunity to go on make only the second hundred of the season. "It is amazing. I just thought I would back myself today," he said. "And it worked. I realised only when I reached 87 that I could make a century here."
Originally from Nainital, Pandey has been a fixture in the Bangalore cricketing circles as his father, an Armyman, was posted in the city. Following in his father's footsteps and joining the Army was initially a back-up plan for Pandey in case he couldn't make it as a professional cricketer. "I think the plan has changed now. I just had an option that if cricket would not work for me then I would join the Army."
One of Bangalore's main problems this season has been an inconsistent batting line-up and the emergence of Pandey bodes well for the big games coming up.