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India vs England: Rishabh Pant Answers Cheteshwar Pujara's Call, Shows He Can Put 'Team First'

The most impressive aspect of Pant's knock was he knew when exactly to change gears. Only after India were 10 runs within England's score did Pant begin the counter attack

India vs England: Rishabh Pant Answers Cheteshwar Pujara's Call, Shows He Can Put 'Team First'

“I am happy with the way he is playing overall. He still has to learn a few more things. He still has to put the team into commanding position because he is capable of that and he is missing out on hundreds. He is capable of putting the team first and at the same time put up a decent total. Because you know whenever he bats, if he bats longer, we always end up putting a big total. I am sure he will realise that.”

Centurion Rishabh Pant and Impressive Washington Sundar Give India Healthy Lead

This was Cheteshwar Pujara talking about Rishabh Pant after the third day of the first Test against England in Chennai. A quick glance at the quotes might make the ignorant think Pant had made a cameo – a 20-ball 40 or something – but he had in fact top scored for India with 91 off 88 after walking in at 73/4. It was a terrific counter-punch, although too little for India in the grander scheme of things as England had posted in excess of 500 in the first innings.

The left-handed dasher had blasted five sixes and fell looking for the sixth, holing out to the deep off off-spinner Dom Bess. The bottom line of Pujara’s statement was that the Indian team expected even more from Pant. A little bit of game awareness, considering Pant had an opportunity to stitch together a partnership with Washington Sundar, who eventually went on to make an unbeaten 85.

India vs England: Twitter Floored With Rishabh Pant’s Counter-Attacking Century

Two Tests later, Pant found himself in a similar situation. India were 80 for 4 when Pant walked in. Unlike in Chennai, England’s total was not too far away but the pitch was trickier. No one would have complained had he looked to slog India closer to England’s score. But that wasn’t to be. Pant showed he can adapt to situations and curb his natural game to, in Pujara’s words, put team first.

England tempted Pant by bringing on their weakest spinner – Dom Bess – straightaway but Pant wasn’t taking the bait. He trusted his defence and focuses on a partnership with Rohit Sharma, his first 20 runs taking 35 balls by the time Rohit was dismissed. Those numbers too were boosted by a six off Joe Root.

Soon, India were six down and 59 runs away from England’s score when Washington walked in to partner Pant. Pant was in his 30s, and was not taking the bait even against his favourite target this series – Jack Leach.

Pant was well set even without taking risks as England opted for an in-out field protecting the boundaries. Pant too was willing to play the waiting game, simultaneously allowing Washington to settle in after tea.

Gradually, the partnership built and India crossed 200. Pant reached his fifty in 82 balls; he was 55 off 91 at one stage, and in the next 24 balls, added 45 more to reach his century!

The most impressive aspect of Pant’s knock was he knew when exactly to change gears. Only after India were 10 runs within England’s score did Pant begin the counter attack, slamming Ben Stokes and Joe Root for two fours each in successive overs. There was another potential momentum changer in the form of the second new ball but Pant wouldn’t allow that – he danced down the pitch to smash Anderson over mid off to welcome the new cherry, and followed it up with another boundary through the off side.

In Anderson’s next over came the most audacious shot of them all – a reverse scoop over the slip cordon that stunned England. Three overs into the new ball, England switched to Root to try their chance but Pant was in the mood – a slog-swept six brought up his century. It was only his second six of the knock, and yet, he reached his century in just 115 balls!

Even the counter attacking shots were not mindless slogging – they betrayed a calculating mind. In each of the first balls of overs 78, 81, 82, 83 and 84, Pant took his chance and found the boundary. The plan was clear – kill the bowlers’ rhythm early in the over.

However, Anderson showed that he’s too smart to fall into Pant’s trap for too long. Expecting a big hit, he pulled the length back in the first ball of the 85th over. Pant went for the cross-batted shot, but this time managed to only hit it to mid wicket.

In that, there was perhaps another lesson for Pant. England were tiring, India were building a healthy lead. A few more overs in the middle might have put the game well and truly beyond England.

As he walked off to a standing ovation from the crowd and the dressing room, Pant seemed more angry and disappointed at the dismissal than happy with the knock. It bodes well for India – that he values his wicket despite personal landmarks being crossed. All signs show that Rishabh Pant will learn from this dismissal too.

Team Rankings

1 New Zealand 3198 118
2 Australia 3028 116
3 India 3085 114
4 England 4326 106
5 South Africa 2499 96
FULL Ranking
1 England 5405 123
2 India 6102 117
3 New Zealand 3716 116
4 Australia 4344 111
5 South Africa 3345 108
FULL Ranking
1 England 6877 275
2 Australia 6800 272
3 India 10186 268
4 Pakistan 7516 259
5 South Africa 5047 252
FULL Ranking