Manish Pandey is happy about KKR’s “homecoming.”

For the Kolkata Knight Riders in 2024, homecoming is the buzz. They welcome back captain Gautam Gambhir, who has won two titles, to serve as a mentor, and they also welcome back Manish Pandey. Before Sunrisers Hyderabad pried him away for an incredible INR 11 Crore in the big auction, the middle-order batter competed for KKR for four seasons between 2014 and 2017.

“We’re returning after a six-year break… our last performance was in 2017.” Returning to KKR is like coming home. It feels so good. I’ve been here for four years, so KKR as a franchise has helped me a lot professionally. In exchange, we’ve given KKR our best effort and a trophy. Of course, it feels amazing to be back home, and returning with Gauti bhai as a mentor is even more special because we have a fantastic past and an IPL championship. Thus, it is pleasant “Pandey remarked.

Even though Pandey played for three different teams (SRH, DC, and LSG), two of his best three batting seasons occurred while wearing the KKR uniform in 2014 and 2017. By the way, the last time KKR won a championship was during one of the two seasons in which Pandey amassed a total of more than 400 runs. In the final, he surpassed that remarkable record with a title-winning 94 off 50 balls, negating Wriddhiman Saha’s century for Kings XI Punjab (now known as Punjab Kings) and handing KKR their second IPL triumph. Thinking back to that season, when KKR needed to win seven straight league games before winning the two knockout matches, Pandey praised the players’ mentality for closing the deal.

2014 was a year that KKR had a difficult beginning. We suffered a few of mid-season losses. That was the fire we needed when we returned and got back together. We then went on to win the championship after winning seven straight games.

“I believe that sometimes luck has a role, but more often than not, I believe that everyone’s mindset on game day matters. It was wonderful for me to end the season with that kind of performance, and it was a really nice patch for us as a team because everyone was contributing. It would be fantastic if all 11 players could exhibit that level of bravery on the field. If we can do so, we should be able to lead this team to the knockout stages and then play well to win the IPL,” Pandey stated.

In addition, Pandey was pleased that his return coincided with that of Gambhir, who captained KKR throughout the 2014 season when they won the title, as well as two years prior.

“Gauti bhai has significantly improved KKR. When he was playing, we always saw a leader in him, and now that he’s returned as a mentor, it feels something similar. He has performed pretty well here as well, so I’m quite glad he’s there and will be fielding a lot of crucial decisions for the team.

“It was nice to see him again, and the way he speaks and the kind of josh [excitement] the boys are in with him made me feel at home and like a lot of memories were returning.” It will be wonderful to have the trophy here at the end of the IPL with everyone coming in.”

Finding a spot in the side will not be as simple as returning to a franchise where he enjoyed great success. It would be difficult to penetrate KKR’s middle order whenever Shreyas Iyer returns to the team, since players like Nitish Rana, Iyer, and Rinku Singh occupy three key positions. With the intention of making an impression in the practice matches and moving on, Pandey believes he needs a fresh start with the team.

“For me, it will be a fresh start. I would really like to perform well in our practice matches. I would want to be true to the kind of job they are providing me and give it everything I’ve got so that, should the opportunity arise, I can seize it. I’m only here to perform well and help KKR win games, so I’ll try to contribute whenever I have the chance.”

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