Rishabh Pant may be a rookie in Test cricket but the left-handed wicketkeeper-batsman has already made many take notice of his talent. On Friday, the 21-year-old became only the second travelling keeper-batsman in world cricket to score a ton in both England and Australia.
Pant dominated the Australian bowlers during his unbeaten 159-runs knock that put India in a position of command at the end of the second day’s play in the fourth and final Test in Sydney. He later admitted that he was little nervous after closing in on his second Test hundred because of his failure to convert two other opportunities against West Indies at home.
“To be honest, I was little nervous because in India, when we were playing West Indies, in the last two innings I got out on 92 and 92. So I was scared slightly but I got through that phase early I guess.”
Pant, who added 204 runs for the seventh wicket with Ravindra Jadeja, could have been run out six runs short of the century mark but dived in time to safely reach his end. He then clipped Marnus Labuschagne to the mid-wicket fence to reach the landmark.
“I loved my celebration. I hadn’t thought that I would do something like that but, yes, whatever the expression came at that time, that’s it,” added Pant who completed his ton in 137 balls with his eighth boundary.
When asked whether he had made any changes to his approach or technique ahead of the Test as he had got a few starts in the earlier matches but could not build on them, Pant explained that the only difference this time was that he was batting with Cheteshwar Pujara, a specialist batsman.
“Most of the time when I got the start, I was playing with the tail,” he said. “When I am batting with the tail, I have to think differently because most of the time I have to score runs. When you are batting with a proper batsman, it is a different thing. You have seen it today.”
Pant added that his game plan was to bat as long as possible. “The best part of my batting is that everyone in the team has given me the freedom to express myself. So every time when I got to bat, I just enjoy myself. That’s the only thing I love to do,” he said.
Apart from his batting, Pant has been in news over his banter with Australian skipper Tim Paine, with the broadcaster opting to turn on the volume of the stump mic when either of them is batting.
Even Paine’s wife, Bonnie, joined in the fun when she put up a photograph of Pant holding one their kids during a dinner at Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s residence in reference to some banter between her husband and the Indian over babysitting their kids.
Pant played down the incident, saying it was all in good humour and added that the constant chatter was also his way of staying focused during long days in the field.
“We met most of the [Australian players’ families] at the prime minister’s house,” he said. “It was lovely meeting them. I don’t think I have to change myself or something like that. The only thing is that the photo was put on Instagram and it went viral. Nothing more.
“[Chatting with opponents] is also a way of keeping yourself positive and busy because when you are fielding for a long time, then the body starts to get tired. But you need to figure out a way to keep yourself positive and concentrate on the job. This is my way and it is working for me,” he added.
Given the way this Sydney pitch has played, India may also find themselves slogging in the field on day three, and it would be interesting to see how Pant keeps himself and his team motivated if things don’t go their way early in the day.
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