Take up any quiz related to IPL and you will most probably be asked this question. The answer to this question is Manish Pandey! The Karnataka lad was picked by his home franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore prior to the inaugural edition of the cash-rich league, after he won the Under-19 World Cup in 2008. He along with his U-19 teammates Virat Kohli and Shreevats Goswami joined the Bangalore-based franchise, but Pandey only got to play two games that season in which he scored just three runs.
Bangalore had quite a few stars in their team and Pandey had to wait for his opportunity. The 2009 edition was no different as the right-hander got to play just one out of Bangalore's first 11 encounters. He finally got a chance against Delhi Daredevils but didn't get an opportunity to bat. Then came that match against Deccan Chargers in which Pandey slammed an unbeaten 73-ball 114, forcing everyone to sit up and take notice. It was on this very day Pandey etched his name in the IPL history books, and from thereon his career kind of took off.
"Somebody got injured or we'd lost a couple of games, Anil Kumble was the captain of the team. After the practice session, he comes up and says in Kannada, 'What boss, are you ready for tomorrow'? Something clicked and I said: 'Anil bhai, I'm ready for tomorrow'. And then again after two minutes he turned up and said, 'You might be opening the batting tomorrow'. It was like a small shock to me," Pandey recently told Cricbuzz.
Pandey had played just two matches that season prior to that encounter against Deccan. To add to that, Pandey was asked to open the innings and the right-handed batsman came up with an astonishing century at SuperSport Park to propel his team into the knockouts.
It was a must-win game for Bangalore and it was Pandey who rose up to the occasion. He would have been back in the hut in the third over itself if RP Singh wouldn't have dropped a simple catch at the third man region. Pandey grabbed the opportunity and made Deccan pay for their mistake. He looked nervous at the start, twice inside-edging Ryan Harris, and there were some top-edges too.
Pandey was swinging at everything but couldn't get his timing right. He was on 16 off 18 at the end of six overs and his opening partner Jacques Kallis was already dismissed in the second over. Roelof van der Merwe played some big shots and took the pressure off Pandey who finally started to get into a rhythm after he sliced Jaskaran Singh off the back foot for a boundary in the seventh over. He was scoring at a strike rate of just over 100 but once van der Merwe was dismissed in the 10th over, Pandey took it upon himself to get Bangalore to a formidable total.
With wickets falling at the other end, it was largely Pandey who did most of the scoring in the final 10 overs. Bangalore managed 106 in the last 10 overs and 80 of those came from Pandey. He smoked Tirumalsetti Suman for consecutive sixes in the 11th over and completed his half-century. Pandey in particular was amazing through the leg side and unleashed quite a few sweep shots. All of his four sixes were hit either over deep mid-wicket or long-on. He tonked Jaskaran for two fours and a six in the 16th over and moved to 97.
It was on the final delivery of the 18th over, Pandey completed his well-deserved century and became the first Indian to do so. He smashed RP Singh for one more maximum in the final over before Kohli closed the innings with two more sixes. Chasing 171, Deccan could only manage 158 in their 20 overs despite Herschelle Gibbs's 43-ball 60.
"The confidence level, the way I was thinking about the game, maybe I used to get scared before batting, all those things changed as that knock gave me immense confidence. The bat with which I scored my IPL century is what I call my ‘shadow’ bat. I use it whenever I need a confidence booster or to prep for a big moment," said Pandey.
Pandey followed up his century with a 35-ball 48 in the semi-final against Chennai Super Kings to ensure his team chased a below-par target with ease to reach the final. Pandey however was dismissed for just 4 in the final against Deccan as Bangalore lost the match by six runs.
Pandey, who is now a regular member of India's limited-over teams, has played 130 IPL games and scored 2843 runs at an average of 29.31.