Manish Pandey has finally made it to the Indian squad that will tour Zimbabwe for a bilateral series involving ODIs and T20s next month.
This is not the first time he was included in the national team, but he was unlucky as he could not represent the team in any match. Previously, he was called for the one-off Twenty20 (T20) match against West Indies. However, West Indies pulled off before completing the tour and Pandey's dream of donning the blue outfit then remained a dream.
One would feel that Pandey's ODI call-up was long overdue. He has had terrific domestic seasons, but he was not called for any series. Even if Pandey was at his sublime best, the selectors did not know whom to omit from that fancy Indian squad to include Pandey.
"It was sad indeed. I was hoping to be part of the team but the West Indies team pulled out and there was nothing you could do about it. Considering I am picked for ODIs and T20s, there is a good chance I get a game. The goal is to make every opportunity count," Pandey told PTI on Monday.
On Monday, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) selectors decided to rest senior players like MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin and Umesh Yadav.
"I was hoping to be a part of it. It is a great feeling obviously, something that was pending for long I feel. It is one of those times you feel all the years of hard work has paid off. I won't be thinking about that too much about whether I get a game or not. If I do, I am just going to be thinking about how I am going to play," Pandey added.
It has been seven years that he made his first class debut for Karnataka and finally he gets to don the Indian outfit. Thus he wants to make full use of this opportunity that he has been given by the selectors.
"I think all these years, in first class, the IPL, overall domestic scene you face so many different types of bowlers and that prepares you for the highest level. I feel I am in good space right now. I have got a much needed month off after the IPL. I spent some time at home and worked more on fitness. Now the business starts and I just want to keep doing the basic stuff right," Pandey said.
Pandey's teammate Robin Uthappa also made a comeback to the Indian team, to be led by Ajinkya Rahane. Veteran spinner Harbhajan Singh will also be seen in the coloured outfit of Team India after a long time. India will play three ODIs and two T20 games against Zimbabwe starting from 10 July.