Sunday, January 17, 2021

Indian team banking on Pant to come good after Sydney heroics

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India wicket-keeper batsman Rishabh Pant may have some work to do with his glovework as he’s been a subject for the critics to debate on. But, hardly anyone doubts his ability with the bat. The Indian team is investing in the exciting talent to come good for them as he did in the third Test against Australia in Sydney.

When Australia declared on 312/6, they were ahead of the visitors by long distance. India started their second innings with a mammoth total to chase- 407. India got a decent start but then two wickets in the last session of day 4 pulled the game in Australia’s favor. India was effectively reduced to 102-4 early on the final day with Ravindra Jadeja doubtful to bat. India’s number 3, Cheteshwar Pujara was in the middling battling hard. But the run rate was hovering around 2 and a half runs per over. Then in walks Pant at 5 who turned the match on its head. He blazed away with 97 runs to his name on day 5. He fell short of 3 runs of his second ton at the SCG, he wasn’t the third time lucky for Nathon Lyon.

Pant’s keeping was criticized after he dropped Australia opener Will Pucovski twice on an opening day but his batting heroics underlined why India keeps playing him ahead of the technically superior keeper Wriddhiman Saha. From India legend,  Sunil Gavaskar to Ajinkya Rahane- weighed in with the hope that Pant will be unburdened of his thick keeping mittens, but not his lighter, batting ones.

Pant- India’s X Factor believes Gavaskar

“I do believe he will be a specialist middle-order batsman at No.5,” Sunil Gavaskar told the broadcast studio. “That position will suit him well because he will attack and has got that X-factor, a swagger, about him.”

A player who “excites you”

“That’s the sort of player he is. Rishabh is electric and he excites you. But you don’t want to be in either dressing room watching him bat,” R Ashwin, the other hero of the hour, would say later. “Because if you are in the opposition dressing room you are thinking you want his wicket. But we are also sitting here thinking he shouldn’t play rash shots. He puts you on tenterhooks all the time but that knock set us up.”

“Improving day by day”

“Anyone can drop catches but as long as you are learning, as a wicketkeeper or as a cricketer, that’s very important,” India skipper Rahane said after Monday’s draw.

“We know he can actually win game for us from any situation, we have that belief in him. I think he’s improving day by day and it’s a very good sign.”

Playing Pant alongside wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha is bound to happen in the final Test at Brisbane anyway, given the spate of injuries in the Indian camp after the end of the Pink Test. 

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