At 19, Rishabh Pant has gone through all the highs and lows of a cricketing career. A promising talent from Delhi, Pant came into reckoning after his exploits for India Under-19 in the 2016 …
At 19, Rishabh Pant has gone through all the highs and lows of a cricketing career. A promising talent from Delhi, Pant came into reckoning after his exploits for India Under-19 in the 2016 World Cup. A dashing left-handed wicket-keeper batsman, he lit up the tournament with a blitzing 24-ball 75, the fastest half-century of the tournament, against Nepal and followed it up with a century against Namibia. India lost the title round – but came back with several positives – nothing bigger than the emergence of Pant.
Pant’s heroics didn’t go unnoticed, and days after his Nepal stunner, he was drafted in by the Delhi Daredevils in the IPL auctions. He gained a permanent place in Delhi’s domestic circuit and by the end of the season was even named as their captain, albeit for the one-day format of the game. In between, he made his full India debut, against England in a Twenty20 international in Bengaluru.
The second Ranji season for Rishabh wasn’t as good as the first one. But he made up for that in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. He smashed the second fastest hundred in the T-20 history in just 32 balls against Himachal Pradesh. This knock brought him into the selectors reckoning again and he was named in the Nidhas Trophy team.
Pant again had a disappointing outing in his comeback match. He hasn’t been himself at the international level and often tried to hit the ball too hard to his liking and failed to portray his hitting prowess. Strangely, his strike rate in the International T20 is just over 100 which is well below average for a power hitter.
Pant is not a finished product by any stretch of the imagination but he has all the raw materials in him to excel at the International level. And this is the reason he has been retained by Delhi Daredevils where he will be playing under Gautam Gambhir and Ricky Ponting.
IPL through the years
The expertise that the IPL demands and the skill set that Rishabh Pant posses are absolutely in synchronization. If ever the definition of an ideal T20 batsman would be written, Rishabh Pant would tick most of the aspects. He is a ferocious hitter of the cricket ball wide a wide array of shots and can clear the boundary ropes with ridiculous ease. The scoops, the paddles, the flicks, you name it and this bloke has every shot in his repertoire.
His career so far is an epitome of the Indian Premier League’s timeline ‘where talent meets opportunity.’ Rishabh was picked up by Delhi Daredevils at a whopping price of 1.9 Crores in the 2016 auction. His first season didn’t pan out the way Rishabh would have liked but he definitely vindicated the owners trust in 2017. A breakthrough season and Rishabh Pant had well and truly arrived. Going into the second season of the IPL, his confidence was sky-high and there were talks of an imminent India cap for the 2017 Champions Trophy. But life had another twist for the young batsman. Days before his team’s first match – against Royal Challengers Bangalore, his father passed away, leaving a void difficult to fill. He came back to cricket from the tragedy, nearly guided his team home with a single-handed effort, and later blasted a blinding 97 against Gujarat Lions to finish the tournament with 366 runs.
Rishabh was retained for the third season and he proved to be Delhi’s only shining light in otherwise a pretty dark campaign. Throughout the season, Pant was responsible for demolishing the morale of the bowlers. His innings of 125 against SRH was one for the ages. The manner in which he took world-class Bhuvneshwar apart was a testimony to his grand stature as a T20 batsman. He will churn out for Delhi Capitals this year with an immense amount of international experience under his belt. And he would very well know a stellar season can fetch him a ticket to England for the World Cup.
What to expect in the 2019 WC?
A dasher, an aggressor or may be the perfect gen-next batsman, Rishabh Pant came in to the WC squad as a replacement for an injured Shikhar Dhawan. He was ignored for the initial squad which was picked for the WC but got his chance at the expense of Dhawan’s injury. Being a left-hander, he might throw in a spanner in the opposition’s plans if India use him judiciously in the middle overs. A see-the-ball and hit-the-ball approach might not come off very often but it will serve a lot of entertainment when it does come off. A good season for Delhi Daredevils just ahead of the World Cup would have also helped his mindset. His cricketing stocks have only risen high with many cricketing pundits batting for his inclusion in the side. Now that Pant has a go, he would want to make it count. The experience of playing Test cricket in England last year will also help him in adapting to the conditions better.