Manish Pandey has credited all-rounder Jacques Kallis for his out-of-the-blue half-century against Mumbai Indians in the opening match of the IPL on Wednesday.
Pandey, who had a lean period after stroking a scorching ton in the 2009 IPL edition, rediscovered his lost form to help his side thrash the defending champions in the opening tie.
Man of the match Kallis (72) and Pandey stitched a 131-run partnership on a green track at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium for the second wicket, after losing skipper Gautam Gambhir for a duck. The right-hander struck two sixes and six fours for his 64 to help Kolkata Knight Riders post a competitive 164-run target.
The Mumbai Indians fell short by 41 runs as Sunil Narine (four for 20) ripped through Mumbai's batting order.
"When I went out there to bat, I remembered the old times when I batted with him and I realised nothing had changed. It was exactly the same batting with Jacques again and I could feel that same comfort level," Pandey told IPL's official website. "We had a lot of partnerships together with RCB and we know each other's games well. We kept talking throughout our time together in the middle.
"The best thing about the partnership was the communication. Right from the very beginning, we decided that we need to stick it out here and build a good partnership because it wasn't easy to bat on this wicket initially. So, the plan was cut out very clearly and we executed it to a tee."
The 24-year-old is well aware that he has failed to fulfil his potential in the shortest format of the game despite being a consistent performer in the domestic arena.
"I think I was a bit off the radar. I wasn't consistent. I was doing well at the domestic level, in first-class cricket, but I couldn't bring that in the IPL," Pandey added. "Although I played a couple of decent knocks for the Pune franchise, I knew that as a top-order batsman, I had to start converting the starts into big scores consistently. I am glad I have started this tournament with a good knock and I hope to be consistent now.
The stylish right-hander feels that he should have tried harder to live up to the expectations after his memorable century against the Deccan Chargers in the IPL. Pandey added that he is putting his best foot forward to capitalise on the opportunities he is getting with the Knight Riders.
"It wasn't the case of putting pressure on myself, to be honest. I think I wasn't playing the game I did in the first couple of IPL seasons. I believe I should have put in a little bit more effort," he said.
"People's expectations had increased from me after that century and I should have tried harder to live up to it. I should have gotten used to it, but I couldn't. I will try my best to rise up to that standard again and then live up to it this time."
When asked about playing under Gambhir's captaincy, Pandey said that he is enjoying playing under him. He added that his role is clearly defined in the team and he has been asked to play his natural game.
"I spoke to him only a few days after the auction. We were playing against each other at the domestic level and he had a nice chat with me. He made my role in the KKR setup very clear and told me what he expects off me," Pandey said.
"He set goals for me for this season and encouraged me to achieve them without sacrificing on my own style of playing cricket."