Manish Pandey in firing line, Saha’s role too under scanner
Having just lost his BCCI central contract, Manish Pandey will be firmly be under the scanner when Sunrisers Hyderabad, who have lost both their matches so far, take on the Mumbai Indians at the MA Chidambaram Stadium on Saturday night.
So far, the 31-year-old has found runs this season. He has a rather Bradmanesque average of 99 but the pace at which he has got them, a strike rate of 119.27, has just not been good enough for his team.
The problem is that while he has managed to dig himself in while chasing a target, he has either struggled to accelerate and been unable to finish off the game, or got out at the wrong time. Both has invited criticism.
In the first game against KKR, Pandey slammed 61* off 44 balls but couldn’t help his team chase down 188 and the Sunrisers lost by 10 runs.
Against RCB, he scored 38 off 39 balls before being dismissed by Shabaz Ahmed after charging him and holing out to point. His dismissal triggered a collapse as SRH lost, by six runs, a game which they should have won easily after being 96/1 in the 14th over chasing 150.
Pandey was subsequently criticized by team mentor and batting great VVS Laxman. Former India batsman Ajay Jadeja went to the extent of saying that Pandey may not play again in the tournament.
In his defence, it must be said that almost all the batsmen have found it difficult to score on the slow, low and turning pitches in Chennai. Pandey has the experience to overcome this problem, and he remains a very good fielder.
It will be interesting if skipper David Warner takes the brave call of dropping Pandey and bringing in Williamson to lend solidity to the batting, though that may also mean sacrificing Bairstow. However, it’s not clear if Williamson has recovered from his elbow injury and is available.
Another player under pressure is all-rounder Vijay Shankar, who has been brutally trolled by fans after managing just 11 and 3, with his only over going for 14 runs.
Warner also needs to have a rethink on his opening partner Wriddhiman Saha. The veteran wicketkeeper too has failed in consecutive innings, logging 7 and 1. SRH can opt to pick the seasoned Kedar Jadhav or go for two talented youngsters in Priyam Garg and Abhishek Sharma. All can bowl useful spin well.
MI, meanwhile, will be buoyed after their come-from behind win against KKR, though they too have looked scratchy so far. They lost their season opener to RCB but did well to literally get out of jail in their second outing.