New Delhi: Manish Pandey says his maiden ODI call-up was long overdue and he now hopes to make his much awaited India debut during the short tour of Zimbabwe next month.

Manish Pandey
Manish Pandey. Pic/Suresh KK

Though it is not the first time he finds his name in the Indian team. Pandey was picked for the one-off T20 against the West Indies but the Caribbean¿s side dramatic pull-out midway out of the tour last year left him helpless and dejected. "It was sad indeed. I was hoping to be part of the team but the West Indies team pulled out and there was nothing you could do about it. Considering I am picked for ODIs and T20s, there is a good chance I get a game.

The goal is to make every opportunity count," Pandey told PTI yesterday. Did he expect to be in the ODI team even though it is very much a second string squad in the absence of senior players? "I was hoping to be a part of it. It is a great feeling obviously, something that was pending for long I feel. It is one of those times you feel all the years of hard work has paid off.

I won¿t be thinking about that too much about whether I get a game or not. If I do, I am just going to be thinking about how I am going to play," said the Karnataka batsman, who made his First Class-debut in 2008. The 25-year-old rose to prominence with his exploits in the IPL and is best known for being the first Indian to hit a century in the cash-rich league.

The stylish right-hander did not have a prolific IPL this season but it seems he has been rewarded for being the highest-run getter in the 50-over Vijay Hazare Trophy. Pandey at his age has already played 70 matches at both First Class and List A level besides a 100 plus T20s. "I think all these years, in first class, the IPL, overall domestic scene you face so many different types of bowlers and that prepares you for the highest level. I feel I am in good space right now.

I have got a much needed month off after the IPL. I spent some time at home and worked more on fitness. Now the business starts and I just want to keep doing the basic stuff right," he said. Pandey is also happy for his six Karnataka teammates who were named in India and India A teams yesterday.

He will be in the familiar company of Robin Uthappa and Stuart Binny in Zimbabwe while his other state mates Abhimanyu Mithun, Shreyas Gopal, KL Rahul and Karun Nair find themselves in the A team. "It is nice to see Karnataka players slowly coming into national reckoning. We have been the dominating for the past couple of seasons," he summed up.