T20 World Cup 2024: Rishabh Pant — the breath of fresh air India needed at No. 3

His simplistic approach to batting makes him the X-factor in the Super 8s and is the most successful among his teammates

Published - June 17, 2024 08:32 pm IST - Lauderhill

Rishabh Pant’s simplistic approach to batting makes him the X-factor in the super 8s and is the most successful among his teammates. File

Rishabh Pant’s simplistic approach to batting makes him the X-factor in the super 8s and is the most successful among his teammates. File | Photo Credit: AP

Even at nets, there is a marked difference between how Rishabh Pant goes about his business when compared to other batters in the Indian team.

The slow, low pitches in New York - both at the match and practice venues - makes timing difficult. Virat Kohli does all the right things with technique, backlift, and feet movement, but in following traditional methods, is unable to adapt to this new challenge.

Pant, often batting next to Kohli in the adjacent net, is doing the opposite. There are only reactions to each delivery; there are no predetermined classical triggers. Pant uses the wrist to send a length ball to fine-leg. A short ball outside off is crunched flat-batted through cover. All by standing still with minimal feet movement. When it is time to get adventurous, there is full commitment. A full walk outside off, crouched low, body twisted to paddle a leg-stump inswinger over the wicketkeeper. Watch the ball, react, repeat.

It is this simplistic approach that has made Pant the top run-scorer among Indian batters in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup group stage which concluded in the USA. If Pant had gotten the chance to go up against Canada here on Saturday, his preparedness for the Super 8 stage would have been complete.

Paying rewards

The team management’s decision to move him up to three and maximise his attacking abilities has paid rich rewards. The southpaw was at his best in the game against Pakistan, making a match-winning 31-ball 42. After a shaky start, Pant came into his own in the 10th over bowled by pacer Haris Rauf. The crowd went berserk went Pant tumbled over as he lapped Rauf to the fine-leg fence. The next ball needed only a slight turn of the wrists get another four to fine-leg.

Pant’s comeback to international cricket from a serious road accident is a remarkable feat. His batting abilities have remained at a high level, and his wicketkeeping has improved. The smooth sideways movement and athletic takes with the gloves is reward for the strenuous rehabilitation he had to undertake.

Former India coach Ravi Shastri summed up Pant’s inspirational return in a moving dressing room speech. “I had tears in my eyes when I read about his accident, and when I saw him in hospital, it was even worse. Batting - everybody knew what you were capable of. But your wicketkeeping - the range of movement that you have got so quickly after the operation is a tribute to your hard work. It’s an inspiration to millions that from adversity, from jaws of death, you can snatch a win,” Shastri said in the bcci.tv video.

India now needs Pant to carry this form into the Super 8 stage in the West Indies. The 26-year-old is the ‘X’ factor who carries the team’s hopes in this tournament.

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