On 23rd January 2016, a 26 year old boy named Manish Pandey came out to bat for India at no. 4 in the last ODI of the 5 match series against Australia. It was on India’s pride as India had lost all the matches in the series. When he came out to bat, India had already lost two in form batsmen Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli. India was chasing huge total of 330 at SCG and with the wicket of Virat Kohli, India started to loose the momentum. India needed a partnership to stay in the match. Rohit Sharma was batting well at the one end and he just needed the support from the other end.
Manish Pandey was sent in at no. 4 because Ajinkya Rahane got injured in previous match. When he was taking his guard, India’s score was 134/2 in 21st over. He took 8 to 10 deliveries to get in. At that time Rohit Sharma was finding the boundaries at regular intervals. Manish Pandey got his eye in, then he was complementing Rohit Sharma pretty well. He was not taking any risk. He was taking 1s and 2s on good deliveries and was dispatching bad deliveries to the boundary. The important thing for him was to bat through the innings. He built a much needed partnership with Rohit Sharma.
India reached to the total of 231 in 35th over when Rohit Sharma got out. Rohit Sharma was dismissed on 99. By that time Manish Pandey was stroking the ball. Soon after Rohit Sharma’s wicket, Manish Pandey brought up his fifty. He had target in his mind so he was striking the ball at strike rate of 115 to 120. On the other end Dhoni was playing at the strike rate of 30. While Dhoni was busy playing dot balls, Manish Pandey was finding the boundaries regularly to release the pressure. In the end required run-rate reached almost 12 runs per over. 35 runs were needed off last 3 overs.
Dhoni still was not finding the middle. It was Manish Pandey’s swift running between the wickets which helped India to keep up with the required rate. The equation came down to 12 off last over. At that time Manish Pandey was batting in 90s. Dhoni finally launched one over long off for a six. It was the first ball of the last over. Dhoni took lot of pressure off Manish Pandey but immediately after hitting the six Dhoni got out. Then the equation was 6 runs off 4 balls. Manish Pandey was on 98. Mitchell Marsh bowled one wide outside the off stump and Manish Pandey sliced it for a boundary. Pandey got to his maiden ODI century in style. The equation came down to 2 runs from 3 balls. Steve Smith brought all the fielders in the circle but Manish Pandey hit one over the mid off and got the winning runs. In this way Manish Pandey guided India to record breaking victory in Australia. It was a fantastico innings by Pandey. He will remember it all of his life.
***Images used in this blogpost are from official twitter accounts of ICC & Firstpost.