When Manish Pandey swapped his India jersey for Karnataka colours
- Karnataka will hope for Pandey's conviction and commitment to show on the entire team.
- On paper, the former champions have one of the best line-ups in the country and now it will be a question of them firing as a unit.
- Pandey has been joined by opener KL Rahul and both are expected to be available for the rest of the season.
On Monday morning, barely 10 hours after India's nine-wicket loss to South Africa here, Pandey swapped his India jersey for Karnataka colours and was at practice.
Tapping the team logo- close to his heart- on the jersey, Pandey said, "It is lovely to have this logo on me. I always look forward to playing for Karnataka. Even if I had checked out of the (India team) hotel today, I would come and join the team. It is always great to come back and play with my friends."
Karnataka will hope for Pandey's conviction and commitment to show on the entire team as they begin their Vijay Hazare Trophy campaign against Hyderabad on Tuesday. On paper, the former champions have one of the best line-ups in the country and now it will be a question of them firing as a unit.
Pandey has been joined by opener KL Rahul and both are expected to be available for the rest of the season. Karun Nair, who will turn out for Board President's XI against South Africa this week, will return to the team after the first three matches and the same is expected of R Samarth, who is sitting out due to a back spasm. With KV Siddharth, Devdutt Padikkal and Abhishek Reddy in good form, Karnataka will take the field with a potent batting line-up.
Leggie Shreyas Gopal, who excelled for the team in all formats in the previous season both with the bat and the ball, will look to catch the selectors eye.
Pandey believes the team will carry the momentum and confidence from their maiden Mushtaq Ali Trophy win earlier this year. "We have a fabulous side and will look to build on the confidence we got after winning the Mushtaq Ali Trophy. The Vijay Hazare offers us a good challenge to regroup and play as a team together."
Both Pandey and chief coach Yere Goud admitted the team will miss former skipper and seasoned medium-pacer R Vinay Kumar, who has moved to Puducherry this season but expressed confidence in their pace-bowling attack. "We will miss Vinay and his never-say die attitude. That said, the bowlers are ready to step up to the challenge," said Goud.
Having lost in the league stages in the previous edition, Karnataka will hope to make amends and pray that the weather at home does not let them down.