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Not a spinner more, not a batsman less

Manish Pandey, T20 world cup, India, M S Dhoni, Squad
Manish Pandey may consider himself unlucky to miss out on India’s World T20 squad. But by possessing one specialised skill-set, he was deemed surplus and rightly so.

 

Having launched Mitchell Marsh over the covers for a couple in the last over of India’s chase versus Australia at Sydney Cricket Ground, Manish Pandey clenched his fist and shared a warm hug with Gurkeerat Singh. The ODI series was long lost and this was no more than a consolation at 1-4 but Pandey, scoring his maiden ODI century (104*) had surely done enough for the upcoming T20 season. Surely?

A three-match T20 series followed, brownwashed by India, effectively ending their tour at 4-4. Manish Pandey played no part as he had taken an early flight back home. A week later the selectors announced the India squad for the Asia Cup and World T20 tournaments. Manish Pandey was in neither, having made way for the rested Virat Kohli from the upcoming Sri Lanka series.

Pawan Negi is the only left-field selection in India’s World T20 squad but it goes in line with MS Dhoni’s ‘five batsman, five bowled + him’ theory. In effect India have seven spin bowling options in their 15-man squad – Ashwin, Jadeja, Harbhajan, Raina, Yuvraj, Rohit and Negi – but all of them can contribute with the bat as well and Jadeja is the best fielder in the world. Pandey was up against Ajinkya Rahane in contention for selection and despite his match-winning century versus Australia, only one of them was going to come out on top.

A little over four years ago a certain Manoj Tiwary, who was then the same age as 26-year-old Manish Pandey, scored an identical 104* against the West Indies in Chennai. He would go on to play just six more ODIs, mostly against Zimbabwe, mainly due to injury. With his non-selection for the World T20 there are fears that Manish Pandey is heading in the same direction. However herein the difference – Tiwary has been AWOL during his injuries; Pandey, with stitches on his right hand fought and helped Karnataka escape with a draw against Haryana in the Ranji Trophy last year. Maybe all he needs is another IPL season to make things right.

 

India’s squad for the World T20: MS Dhoni, Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Ashish Nehra, Harbhajan Singh, Mohammed Shami, Pawan Negi. (There are six players in this list who used to play for the erstwhile Chennai Super Kings. Make of that what you will)

 

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