Since making his India debut in 2017 in a T20I match vs England, Rishabh Pant has been through plenty of ups and downs in his young career. From being heralded as MS Dhoni’s successor and being criticized for his mistakes, to cementing his spot in the India playing XI, Pant is now being considered a future captain for the national team. Speaking to Jemimah Rodrigues on Dream11, the wicketkeeper-batter opened up about the “turning point” in his career which made him a fan-favourite and also a crucial cog in India’s playing XI.
The swashbuckling batter recalled his performance in the 2020-21 Border-Gavaskar Trophy which India won 2-1. Pant didn’t feature in the first Test match, which India lost. He featured in the second Test which India won, but he also was on the receiving end of an injury in the third fixture.
“I got my first chance in the second match where I scored 27-30 odd in both innings. Decent start for me because I was always under pressure after coming back from there, and we won the match. We made a comeback in the series”, he said.
“Third match we went there. We were under pressure; they gave us some 400 something. Injury happened in the first innings. He bowled a bouncer, it kept low and it hit my elbow and I was unable to move my hand in the first innings. I didn’t keep in the second innings. Wriddhi bhai did all the keeping.”
“We went for a scan and it was a bone bruise. It wasn’t a major injury, but it was very painful. We were talking to the physios because I had to bat, by hook or by crook. So, we decided to take injection to help with the pain. We have to see in the nets obviously, at first. So, I took the painkiller injection during the game, went to the nets and I was trying to hold the bat but it was paining. I couldn’t hold my bat properly. After this there’s Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood and they will be bowling a lot faster”.
The Delhi Capitals (DC) captain ended up smashing a knock of 97 runs to help India stage a massive turnaround and draw the third Test match.
He built a crucial partnership with Cheteshwar Pujara and after his departure, Hanuma Vihari and Ravichandran Ashwin put up a valiant effort. The duo received multiple blows and Vihari was unable to run due to injury as India went on to draw the Test.
“I was just telling myself, ‘you have to do this, there is no choice.’ Firstly, there was no intention of winning the match. First goal was to draw, because it was the last day and we needed 400 runs. Then there was an idea of making me bat at No.5 because I was injured and even if I got out then the batters to come could still look to remake. It was still paining and on top of that I took a painkiller pill too”, he said.
“Rahane got out before lunch and I got tensed. I went inside, I couldn’t get my way, pressure was building, Aussies were sledging and because they were up in the game and they wanted to win. Then it was my threshold, mid-on was up and he bowled me there and I hit him over mid-on for a boundary. Next ball he bowled there, after a few overs, and I hit him for a six. Next over the long-on was back and I was playing my normal game and I was getting runs.”
“Then there was a good partnership that happened between me a Pujara and suddenly the momentum of the match changed and we were in a position to win the match. And slowly, my pain started lessening because I was concentrating entirely on every ball and so the focus on the pain went away.”
“Then I scored 97. I was feeling bad, but not for missing out on my hundred because I felt that I could have won the match for India from there. Then Ashwin and Vihari, the way they saved the match. They were hit all over the body. Vihari had a hamstring injury and couldn’t run and we couldn’t go for the target. The aim was to save the match and we managed it because of the team effort. It was one of the turning point of the series for us and for myself also. Next match Gabba happened,” he further added.
At the Gabba in Brisbane, Pant smashed an unbeaten knock of 89 runs in the second innings as India went on to win the match by three wickets.
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