Manish Pandey, the Royal Challengers Bangalore batsman who became the first Indian to make a century in the IPL, has thanked his state and IPL team-mate Rahul Dravid for inspiring him.
"I always look up to him as a cricketer," Pandey said on returning from South Africa. "Dravid really motivated me on and off the field ... I'm really indebted to him.
"I was fortunate to bat with him (Dravid) in the semi-final against Chennai Super Kings ... I grew up watching him and Sachin Tendulkar so I feel lucky to have played with them."
The 19-year-old Pandey shot into the limelight after making 114 against Deccan Chargers in the final league game before top-scoring with a composed 48 against Chennai Super Kings in the semi-final, both performances fetching him Man-of-the-Match awards.
"I am more confident now," Pandey, who had had few opportunities in the tournament before the game against Deccan, said. "The IPL is a big stage and the performance will surely help me go further. It's a turning point in my career."
He was also looking forward to a strong showing in the inaugural Champions League in October.
Pandey was a member of India's Under-19 World Cup-winning side of 2008, after which he made his first-class debut for Karnataka. He made two half-centuries in the season but his performances were below par, fetching him 193 runs at 27.57 in the Ranji Trophy. "The longer version of cricket tests your cricketing ability," he said. "You have to be very patient and I am looking forward to prove myself there in the upcoming domestic season."