Glad to have made it count after getting the "lucky" break in India's one-day team, batsman Manish Pandey said receiving his ODI cap from senior off-spinner Harbhajan Singh was a moment he would cherish for the rest of his life. (Rahane Lauds "Hungry Boys" After Series Whitewash)
The 25-year-old Pandey was picked for the third and final ODI against Zimbabwe after Ambati Rayudu was ruled out due to injury. He made the most of the opportunity by scoring 71 runs.
"This has been my dream for a long time now and I consider myself very lucky to have played for India. I was waiting for this opportunity for a while now and when I got it I just wanted to make it count. I thought I did pretty okay," Pandey told 'bcci.tv'. (India Sweep Series | Highlights | Pics)
Pandey was handed his cap by Harbhajan and the youngster said it was an overwhelming moment for him.
"It meant a lot to me and it is something I will cherish for the rest of my life. You know the feeling you have when you finally get something you have loved so much? It was a similar feeling and that gesture of kissing the cap just came out of those feelings. This was a dream not only for me but also my family and everybody who has worked with me over the years. It was for them," he said. (Kedar Jadhav Slams Maiden Ton)
Asked whether the experience of playing in 70 first-class matches worked to his advantage in the international debut, Pandey said it certainly did.
"I didn't feel a lot of pressure because I knew I have seen this and done this before. It is definitely beneficial to have a lot of experience behind you when you start playing for India. It makes you more prepared to face any situation you might encounter and you will not be overwhelmed," he said.
Pandey said he would look to build on the fine debut. "It is very important to have a good debut. It builds your confidence and gives you the belief that you belong. But I will not be thinking about this performance for too long. I have a long way to go and I will focus on what I have to do next.
"I will try to do well in whatever opportunities come my way, keep playing such knocks and try to be in the Indian team for a long time," he said.
Here are some statistical highlights of Pandey's innings:
# Pandey's 71 is the second highest by an Indian debutant in an ODI away from home. Brijesh Patel holds a record with his 82 off 78 balls vs England at Leeds on July 13, 1974.
# Overall, Pandey's aforesaid innings is the fourth highest by an Indian debutant in ODIs - the highest being Robin Uthappa's 86 off 96 balls vs England at Indore on April 15, 2006.
# The 144-run partnership between Jadhav and Pandey is India's fourth highest for the fifth wicket vs Zimbabwe in ODIs.
(Stats courtesy: Rajesh Kumar)