The manner in which Rishabh Pant batted aggressively against Nathan Lyon reminded him of his first-class debut. In 2015, Pant batted against Bengal in a similar fashion at Ferozeshah Kotla. This 18-year-old boy batted carelessly on the fourth day’s pitch. Even experienced spinner Pragyan Ojha could not control Pant. However, for this, he kept long-off, long-on, a little straight deep-midwicket and deep square leg. Despite this field, Pant was constantly moving forward and playing straight shots on Ojha’s bowling. He later said, “If I think I can hit a six on a ball, then I will try my best to do it, no matter the field.”
The way Pant batted on Monday, the journey there has not been very easy. There is always a sword hanging on their head. Everyone has a keen eye on each of their shots. In September, Team India’s batting coach Vikram Rathore even said that Pant needs to understand the difference between carefree and careless.
After a blistering innings of 97 runs, it seems that perhaps the team management will now praise his game.
Captain Ajinkya Rahane confirmed this and said: Of course, they have the X-factor. Sending them up the batting order was part of our strategy to keep the scorecard running. We know that he can win matches under any circumstances and he is constantly getting better from both bats and gloves.
Gaining the trust of the team management was not easy. Pant had dropped out of all three formats in 2020. And when the game resumed with the IPL after the lockdown, Pant had a big fitness question. This was largely related to their weight. Meanwhile, he was also busy getting his form with the bat.
His childhood coach Tarak Sinha told our associate newspaper Times of India, ‘He was trapped in his house in Roorkee during the lockdown. They did not have the training facilities that a player of the Indian team should have. But after reaching Dubai for the IPL, he worked hard.
He remained on a strict diet during the IPL. Pant worked hard to earn his cricketing skills, he also sweated heavily to lose weight. He has weighed at least 10 kg in the last four months. Their goal is to lose more weight. It also happened many times that he was not able to put the required strength in his shots as he was on a diet and was on the way to lose weight. After reaching Australia, he put cricket training behind and started to achieve rigorous fitness.
More than fitness, Tarak Sinha was worried about his bat flow. He told, ‘I know that he will regain fitness again but it is important that his bat flow is corrected. He was so confused that he was playing excessively and that is why he went into the defensive mindset in the IPL. After his fitness and confidence, his wicketkeeping will also improve.
During the IPL he decided that he would have to improve his off-side game. He could take his time as Delhi Capitals were doing quite well at the time. He improved posture and grip. Shortly thereafter, he began to drive well.
In the middle of the IPL, Pant separated himself from the world. ‘Be happy’ became the motive of his life. He was meeting very few people so that he would not get excessive advice. Sinha claimed, “We advised him to be happy and play as he has been playing since childhood.”
Pant finally started showing color with the bat. Now, if he takes this improvement to wicketkeeping as well, then the Indian team management can remain relaxed for some time.