Great knock in the finals! What was going through your mind out there in the middle?
When I went to bat, I really thought I had a home advantage because the crowd was supporting us and I know the ground [M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore] pretty well, and I know the wicket pretty well. We had to chase 200 and I thought 200 is gettable on this wicket because it has happened before. It’s always been a high-scoring wicket. So I went to bat on a positive note and I had a blank mind. I wasn’t really thinking about anything. I just had one thing on my mind that we have to win this game because we have done a lot of hard work in the whole series, so I thought winning the IPL would be a really good achievement.
What happened after the cup was won?
Oh, it was a great feeling, especially for me, you know. This was my first IPL trophy and it was my fourth trophy for the year, the first three with the Karnataka team… so it was a great feeling, playing a major role in the final and winning the cup for KKR was great.
What did Shah Rukh Khan tell you?
Shah Rukh Sir was very happy. He came up to me and told me that he had told his friends and his family and all the others that he had all the faith in me and he knew that I was going to do it today [on Sunday] for KKR. Obviously it’s a great feeling to receive a compliment from such a great man.
Shah Rukh knew it but did you know that Sunday was your day?
Ya, I had a good feeling about it. As I said, it was my home ground and I know a lot of things about it. I had a feeling, you know, that I’ll perform, probably because it was one big game and there was one big score pending from my side as a batsman, so I thought might as well be the last game.
What was your family’s reaction?
They were at the ground, they had come to see the game. They were really happy. They told me they were very happy to see the way I was batting, especially my dad, who follows my game pretty much. It was obviously great to see my mom and dad supporting me and supporting KKR. And eventually I gave a little bit of a performance to give them some smiles.
Earlier in the season, did you enjoy playing in Calcutta?
It was great. Here the public is very supportive. They are die-hard KKR fans and that was a great thing to see. It was amazing actually, probably the best support on the ground I have ever seen for any team. And I hope we have done a little justice to our fans.
Speaking of fans, you seem to have quite a female fan following in Calcutta, going by the emails we’ve received in t2…
(Smiles) Okay… that’s nice to know. But I have not met any (smiles again). It’s good to have fans… see, boys or girls it doesn’t really make a difference to me… as long as I am making people happy, I’m good.
Coming back to the game, a lot is being said about the team-building in KKR — Gambhir’s captaincy, Mike Horn’s mentoring, videos being made for the players… what’s your take as a Knight?
Obviously the inclusion of those great names is really important to any team. Gautam Gambhir has been an inspiration since Day 1 for me. He’s a great captain, he supports a lot and he backs you, till the end. It was great for me because I got to learn a lot of things from my captain.
And Mike Horn has been an inspiration not just for me but probably everybody else in the team too. He was motivating us in Dubai, then he was out for a summit in the middle and joined us for the qualifiers again. It’s great to have him in the team. The way he relates his stories to cricket is really amazing, the way he brings in the best of his adventures to questions of how to build a team and how to motivate each other and how to be there for each other is just amazing.
What do you do when you are not playing or training?
Well, I am training most of the time... I’m keeping myself fit in the gym or I am working on my skills. When I have time off, when I don’t want to bat, I like to visit my friends, spend time with my family, probably take a holiday, or a wildlife trip close to Bangalore. I like nature and it’s really great to be a part of it sometimes…. This is what I generally do.
And I love to play some other sport that keeps me a little busy. I like to play football and tennis and golf a little bit.
So you must be looking forward to the FIFA World Cup? Which is your team?
Definitely! (Laughs) I think it’s gonna be Brazil, because there are a lot of good names and great players there.
Any place or food in Calcutta that you loved?
We did a little bit of shopping. And I love the food here… loved the rasgulla and the mishti doi.
Manish Pandey is my Knight because... Tell us in 20 words or less at firstname.lastname@example.org