‘Sanju Samson was batting well, I thought he should’ve played in my place’ | Cricket

Despite being a regular in India’s ODI and T20I sides for close to five years starting from 2016-16, Manish Pandey played only 29 ODIs and 39 T20Is. When he did, he rarely got to bat at No.3, his preferred spot. Thanks to the rapid change in the way T20 cricket is played in the last two-three years, Pandey slowly lost out his place even in the squad. His way of taking time, getting his eyes in and then going after the bowling was not something that was going to work at the number he was given to bat in the Indian side. The result was an exit from India’s T20I set-up after the Australia tour in 2020. His ODI career too went southwards after the Sri Lanka tour in 2021.

India started to focus more on Sanju Samson, Suryakumar Yadav and Shreyas Iyer. Pandey said he obviously would have preferred a longer run at a higher number but he knew the likes of Samson needed to be tried out. “See obviously, individually I would feel a little sad about it. But I am sure, whatever calls the Indian team was taking or whoever was playing a certain number of games, I was happy for them. Sanju was batting well, so I thought he should have now gotten games and he did. So no hard feelings there. But on a personal front, I would obviously want to play a lot more games and prove myself at the highest level. But unfortunately, that didn’t happen. Maybe see how it goes from here on,” Pandey told Sportskeeda.

As ironic as it may sound, Sanju Samson himself is now warming the benches most of the time in the Indian side. The Rajasthan Royals captain did not get a game in the New Zealand T20Is.

Coming back to Pandey, who is on a comeback quest, has not been in the best of forms while playing for Karnataka in the Vijay Hazare Trophy. He received another jolt when he was released by Lucknow Super Giants ahead of IPL 2023.

“I have been through that situation even with the Indian team. Because there were a lot of times where I have not played a lot of games and I have been sitting out. You actually feel a little sad about it, but it is all in the spirit of the game where the team requires something and then you have to abide by that. So I have been in these kinds of situations before and I think I should not be letting all these things affect me which will eventually affect my game. So I just want to be in the present. If I get an opportunity, I want to play and score well and see how it goes from there,” he said.

Asked whether he was disappointed not to be a part of India’s World Cup squad, Pandey said, he hasn’t lost hope. He will try to perform well in the next IPL and get back in the reckoning.

“Unfortunately, we could not win the World Cup this time. But we had a solid team. And my inclusion depends on so many things. Again it’ll be the whole cycle – a lot of people who will be performing in the IPL will come up, and we will have to form teams around that. Looking at the top 20 or the top 25 that we have, we have a really solid side and we are still No. 1,” he added.

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