With MS Dhoni, you are always on your toes, says Manish Pandey

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With MS Dhoni, you are always on your toes, says Manish Pandey

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SportsCafe Desk


Manish Pandey, who scored a half century in the fourth ODI against Sri Lanka, has praised MS Dhoni, who played his 300th ODI on Thursday, by calling him "inspiration". Pandey, who is trying to reinforce his spot in the playing XI, backed KL Rahul after the latter's failure to score in the game.

The 27-year-old had an unbroken 101-run partnership with MS Dhoni for the sixth wicket and the former Indian captain sacrificed his own half century so that the younger player could reach the landmark on his return to the team.

"To play 300 ODIs is a lot of experience. Like half the things you have probably learned are by way of looking at the way Dhoni conducts himself. It is inspirational, especially for a guy like me who started my career under him, so it's always good to be there and learn from him," Pandey said at the post-match press conference.

"I have played a few games with him already. I know how he plays. I know how he likes to rotate the strike. I like to bat with somebody who loves to do that. Occasionally we get some fours and that's how we keep the scoreboard ticking. With Mahi bhai, you are always on your toes and he keeps giving you advice."

Talking about his preference to bat in the lineup, he said, "Middle order is where I bat. Starting from No.4 to No.6 I have batted at different positions for India. I have to be ready for whatever spot I get. So if I get a chance then I need to get some runs and cement that spot for myself first."

"Then if you keep performing and you keep playing better, then maybe you come one up in the order. So that will be my goal to fix a spot or two for myself, stay there at the end and win games for India." 

Pandey walked into bat with just over 12 overs left in the innings and on his return to the team, for the first time since the 2016 New Zealand series, scored an unbeaten half ton off just 42 balls that included four boundaries.

"Even batting through the India-A series, I batted very similar to the way I batted today. So it was not too different for me to come back and think about it like it was my first game in a long time. I have been batting well in the nets and I just had to watch the ball and play," said Pandey.

"The start was really important for us. I think we did well given the fact that it was really hot. The guys were batting very well and were looking for boundaries. The way Virat and Rohit batted, getting their hundreds, I thought it allowed us to come back in the middle overs (after the collapse) and look for boundaries. It was a little easier for us in the end.

"My mindset was to spend some time at the wicket first, like how many balls I should take initially. I need to take at least 6-10 balls to know what's the wicket like. It was spinning a bit when the middle-order got out but as I said there was a plan to spend some time and eventually it came off well for me. There were wickets falling on the other side but I had to keep my calm and rotate the strike."

After impressive performances in the Test series, KL Rahul has not been able to replicate his form in the limited over's format. The Karnataka batsman has been able to score just 28 runs in three innings for the Men in Blue in Sri Lanka. However, Pandey backed his teammate and offered some advice as well. 

"Rahul is used to batting in the top order and the game is a little different there. It is on him to come out of this situation again. Perhaps he has to understand how the middle overs go because he always opens the batting and suddenly you are batting after 30 overs, you need some time," Pandey said.

"Maybe as he plays more matches batting in the middle order, he will get used to it. Even I was found it difficult when I was batting at no.6 because I was coming after 40 overs and I was used to batting at no.4 when batting comes after 25 overs. So it always takes time, and the faster you learn and the better batsman you become and I think that's what I have done."

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