The batsman struck 94 off 50 balls to help Kolkata reach 200-7 and secure victory over Kings XI Punjab by three wickets, and with three balls to spare.
Pandey’s swashbuckling innings included six sixes and seven fours, helping the Knight Riders to a second IPL crown.
Although Piyush Chawla hit the winning runs, it was Pandey who Gambhir singled out in a tremendous team effort.
“Manish played a fantastic innings,” said the captain. “Yusuf (Pathan) chipped in, and Chawla hit that important six.
“They absorbed a lot of pressure, a lot of credit needs to go to the team.
“This is a ground where it is very difficult to defend. We wanted to get it down to five overs, 50 or 60 to get.”
Pandey himself labelled the victory as the “cherry on the cake” and revealed that he was confident throughout the run chase despite losing early wickets.
“I’m a very optimistic person, and I love to play the crunch games,” he said. “We got 10 in the first over, and that was the time I thought, if we kept doing that, we’ll get 200.”
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