New Delhi: Ranji Trophy's highest wicket-taker Ishwar Pandey has been rewarded for his consistent show as he bagged his maiden IPL contract with the Pune Warriors. Pandey, who plays for Madhya Pradesh in the Ranji Trophy, is still the highest wicket-taker in the championship with 48 scalps from eight games but his team did not qualify for knock-outs, which did not give him a chance to increase his tally.
"I am happy that my consistent performance has been rewarded. My focus will be to do well for the Pune Warriors and cement my place in the playing XI. For an upcoming cricketer like me, IPL is the kind of exposure that will help me understand the rigours of top-flight cricket," Pandey said.
The lanky speedster was picked to play for India A against England in a warm-up game and had decent figures of one for 29.
"Indian team's bowling coach Joe Dawes told me a few things about the positioning of my non-bowling arm. It was when I was summoned to bowl at the Indian team's nets ahead of the ODI against Pakistan at Kotla," he said.
For Pandey, it will be a dream come true to get an opportunity to interact with Allan Donald, who is the chief coach of the Pune franchise.
"When you get a chance to interact with someone of Donald's stature, you can't ask for more. It's an opportunity that every fast bowler looks forward to and I am no exception.
Hopefully, once he watches me bowl at the nets, he would tell me the areas where I would need to work upon," said the 23-year-old from Rewa district in MP. Pandey, however, has one regret - his attempted big hit that was caught in the deep as MP lost to eventual finalist Mumbai.
"I had got three sixes and there was absolutely no need to go for the fourth one. It was a bad shot selection in the end," Ranji Trophy's most successful bowler said.