Rishabh Pant has been in scintillating form with the bat for India since the tour to Australia in December last year. After producing match-defining knocks in Sydney and Brisbane, he continued his form in the home series against England producing one high impact performance after the other across the three formats. New Zealand’s Bowling Coach, Shane Jurgensen, identified Pant as the most threatening Indian batsman but also saw an opportunity to take his wicket with the brand of risky cricket he plays batting down the order for India.
Pant has an aggregate of 1358 runs in just 20 Tests at an average of 45.26 and strike rate of 71.47 with three hundreds and 6 fifties and has the ability to change the course of a match with his destructive power-hitting batting at number six or seven for India.
New Zealand’s bowling coach Jurgensen was aware of the threat posed by Pant in the lower-middle order and identified him as the most dangerous Indian batsman in the line-up. However, he saw an opportunity for the New Zealand bowlers in the manner in which Pant batted.
“Well, Pant is an extremely dangerous player who can change the game on its head. We saw how well he did it against Australia and England. He’s extremely positive-minded, but with that comes potentially the opportunity to take his wicket," stated Jurgensen.
Jurgensen added that the keys to success against Pant were patience and discipline and that is what he expected the New Zealand bowlers to do when they faced him in Southampton. He further stated that blocking Pant’s runs was an attacking move against the swashbuckling left-hander.
“Our bowlers need to execute well, stay calm and make it as difficult as possible for Pant to score runs. He’s certainly a free-flowing batsman and a tough one to stop, which we should keep in mind.”
New Zealand have a formidable and experienced pace attack in Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Neil Wagner but Jurgensen also has high expectations of youngster Kyle Jamieson who troubled India when they were beaten 2-0 on their last tour of New Zealand.
Jamieson was purchased by the Challengers ahead of the 2021 edition of the IPL and the Indian and RCB skipper Virat Kohli had almost got the tall New Zealand pacer to bowl with to him with the dukes ball (the same one to be used in England) in the nets in India.
“Well, Kyle has played with Virat at RCB and no doubt they would have exchanged some comments potentially leading into this final. So interesting times ahead. I’m sure it’s going to be great to watch Kyle.”
Jamiseon has had an excellent start to his Test career bagging as many as 36 wickets in just six Tests at an average of 13.27 and strike rate of 33.3 playing a leading role in securing a spot for New Zealand in the final of the World Test Championship against India. Jurgensen felt that the two-Test series against England prior to the final in Southampton would stand Jamieson in good stead.
“His Test career too has been outstanding so far. He has got a great opportunity to prepare really well in the lead-up to the final, beginning with the two Tests versus England.”
India themselves have a world-beating fast bowling attack for the tour to England and Jurgensen recognizes the talent in their arsenal. He added that the two experienced and outstanding spinners R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja completed what is a formidable Indian attack.
“It’s a challenging bowling attack that India have. A lot of options are available for them.I t’ll be a very, very stiff challenge we could face from (Jasprit) Bumrah to Shardul (Thakur), who’s an all-rounder and has done well in Australia too. There’s Mohammed Siraj and even their spinners, who can spin it both ways. It’s a group of formidable, outstanding Test bowlers.”