Sydney, Jan 23: Manish Pandey today lit up the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) with a scintillating century which handed India a consolation 6-wicket victory over Australia in the 5th and final ODI. But the fans Down Under will not see Pandey in action for the remainder of the tour. Reason - He is not in the Twenty20 International squad.
Set a record target of 331 to win, India rode on Pandey's magnificent 81-ball 104 not out (8x4, 1x6) and Rohit Sharma's equally superb 99 to emerge triumphant in the final over in front of over 30,000 spectators at the SCG. The hosts won the series 4-1 and their world record unbeaten run at home also ended with this loss.
The name Manish Pandey started to trend on top on the micro-blogging site Twitter as soon as he hit the winning runs just a ball after bringing up his maiden ODI hundred in his 4th match.
"I wanted to capitalise batting at number 4. I got a chance to bat at No. 4 as Ajju (Ajinkya Rahane) was injured," Pandey said after receiving the Man-of-the-match award.
With 3 T20Is to follow in the tour, Pandey will not feature in them. The Indian selectors had already picked the side last month and he was not there. Also, earlier today, as the 5th ODI was going on, the selection committee retained Gurkeerat Singh Mann as a cover for the injured Rahane.
In a way Pandey was lucky to play today. After missing out on the previous 2 ODIs, he was only brought into the Playing XI due to hand injury to Rahane. And the Karnataka right-hander grabbed the chance with both hands.
After watching his dazzling display of strokes today in the day-night contest, will the Indian selectors keep him back in Australia? Most of the fans want this decision to happen. And Pandey is a T20 specialist.
Back in the year 2000, VVS Laxman was included in the ODI side after he scored a superb 167 at the same ground - SCG in Test. And he went on to torment the Australians in the 50-over format too.