Generally guilty of being a slow starter in T20s, Manish Pandey was at his swashbuckling best vs RR, something which Shankar also admitted, saying that he was hitting the ball really well from the word go. After losing three straight games in the tournament, it was a do-or-die game for Hyderabad.
Manish Pandey had played a great finishing role for India in the T20I series against New Zealand, earlier, this year but in IPL 2020, he blew hot and cold and was largely inconsistent. At times, his slow batting approach had raised some eyebrows. But in the game against Rajasthan Royals on Thursday in Dubai, he batted like a top notch batsman showing great intent right from the word go, making 83* off 47 and helping SRH counter attack after they lost their openers David Warner and Jonny Bairstow early with a struggling Vijay Shankar in the middle.
When Pandey brought up his 28-ball 50, Vijay Shankar at the other end, had made a slow start to his innings, not even rotating strike well and was unbeaten on 9 in 15 balls in the chase of 155. But speaking in the post-match press conference, Vijay Shankar gave a sneak peek into his mindset and approach in the innings where he finished with an unbeaten 52 off 51, forming a match winning 140-run partnership with Pandey, stating that he hadn't batted much prior to the knock and wanted to take the game deep.
"Manish was hitting the ball really well early on. I had batted only 18 balls before this innings so it was important for me to stay at the wicket and give him the confidence that we can take the game deep. We chatted in the middle about taking the game deep and I opened up and got a few boundaries and it made things easier for us. It was a good partnership and we had good communication and were running very well between the wickets too," Shankar asserted in the post-match press conference.
Shankar, however, batted impressively against Jofra Archer, with SRH needing 37 off last five overs, Shankar hit a hat-trick of boundaries against the English pacer, bringing the equation down to run-a-ball situation at the end of the 16th over and helped Warner's men finish the game with 11 balls to spare.
Shankar feels it's a real confidence booster to hit a bowler like Jofra Archer well and he was very eager to score without getting out. He also remarked that it was a do-or-die game for him and it was good that he got ample time to spend in the middle after Jofra bullied the SRH openers into submission.
"It was important for me to play a bowler like Jofra Archer in this situation because it gives me a lot of confidence. He was coming really hard at us. If you see in the second and third over, I played most of the balls he bowled. It was very important for me to play without getting out and score some runs as well which was important for me.
"We knew we have to stay in the middle to take the game deep. If you ask me personally, it was a do or die game for me. I've not had the best of time with the bat. I had to perform in this game. Fortunately or unfortunately we lost early wickets which made the team decide to send me up the order. Really happy to play such an innings," Shankar stated.
The 8-wicket win has made sure that the Sunrisers stay in the hunt for the playoffs as now they have eight points after 10 games and a positive net-run-rate, which can come handy later on.