Manish Pandey played a massive role in Karnataka creating history in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy final against Tamil Nadu at the Lalabhai Contractor stadium in Surat. The skipper blasted 60 off 45 balls in a knock that included four boundaries and two sixes and it was his partnership of 65 with Rohan Kadam that helped them reach 180/5. However, it was in the field where Pandey made a massive impact. He took two catches but in the final stages, Vijay Shankar and Ravichandran Ashwin were going strongly and they needed four runs to win off two balls. Shankar thumped a full ball from Krishnappa Gowtham to the long on fence but Pandey's rocket throw to KL Rahul resulted in Shankar's run-out and Ashwin not on strike for the last ball as Karnataka became the first team to win the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy back-to-back.
Following his heroics in the tournament, Pandey had another glorious occasion to celebrate as he got married to south Indian actress Ashrita Shetty. The right-handed batsman revealed his marriage during the post-match presentation. "I have taken it upon me to field there (long-on) and all the practice comes helpful in a situation like this and that run-out probably changed the game. Looking forward to the India series, but before that there is another important series for me, I am getting married tomorrow," Pandey said.
Ashrita Shetty is a South Indian actress who has forayed into the industry in 2012 with her debut film Telikeda Bolli, which was a Tulu comedy. However, her breakthrough came in the year 2013 when she was paired with Siddharth for the Tamil film Udhayam NH4. After that, she has signed three films in Tamil, starting with 2014 in the film Oru Kanniyum Moonu Kalavaanikalum, Indrajith in 2017 and Naan Thaan Siva in 2018.
Pandey hailed the efforts of the Karnataka team who continued their domination of the Indian domestic circuit after winning the Vijay Hazare Trophy also against Tamil Nadu in Bengaluru. "We won it last year but this year the victory was a lot sweeter. The way the boys played the entire tournament has been unbelievable. Everyone has put in so much effort that I thought it was a very good game. It came neck to neck but we deserved it. You have to enjoy each other's success, and if you do, you have higher chances of winning finals like these. Hopefully there is more to come.," Pandey said.
However, the match witnessed plenty of turns. When Ravichandran Ashwin smashed two boundaries off Gowtham, he celebrated prematurely and many social media users commented that he committed the same mistake which Bangladesh's Mushfiqur Rahim had done during the 2016 World T20 in Bangalore. In the last ball, Ashwin decided to remove his thigh pads as he wanted to be quicker but when only run resulted, there was heartbreak for Tamil Nadu, with Shankar shedding tears of despair.
Dinesh Karthik, the Tamil Nadu skipper hailed the spirit of the side. "I would feel that it would've been great had we won. Some of the boys have stood up, we have played great cricket and I think it my duty as a leader to be proud of this team. At the start of the year if you'd have told me that we would've been in the finals of both white ball tournaments I would've taken it any day," Karthik said.