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Sunday, 11 November 2018

Rishabh Pant's Cricket Career : Best Man To Replace Legend MS Dhoni

Rishabh Pant's Cricket Career : Best Man To Replace Legend MS Dhoni

Rishabh Pant, 20, has become the fifth-youngest wicketkeeper to play Test cricket for India and the sixth to make his debut before turning 21. Here's the lowdown on India's latest Test debutant.

What is Pant's claim to fame?

Since making his first-class debut in 2015 for Delhi, Pant has caught the eye primarily with his batting exploits. He was one of India's stars at the Under-19 World Cup in 2016, when he scored 267 runs at a strike rate of 104.29. Back home, he made 928 runs in eight Ranji Trophy games in 2016-17, scoring his runs at an astonishing strike rate of 107.28 - easily the highest among those who made at least 700 runs that season. His scores that season included a triple-hundred against Maharashtra and a blistering 48-ball hundred against Jharkhand.

In the IPL, he has been an important member of a young Delhi Daredevils' squad over the last two years, and before the 2018 season was retained by the franchise for INR 8 crore (USD 1.26 million).

What are Pant's strengths as a batsman?

Short, stocky and left-handed, Pant's strength is the power he packs. His favourite area is the leg side, but he is not merely a slogger. He combines a high backlift and a quick downswing to put immense punch into his strokes. Quick hand-eye coordination is his other strength, which has allowed him to attack pace as well as spin and emerge as one of the most dangerous batsmen in the IPL.

What about his wicketkeeping?

He is a work-in-progress behind the stumps, and with experience is improving his technique. Pant has always been good standing back to the fast bowlers, but his movement and ball-gathering at times has been less than satisfactory.

How did Pant find his way into the Indian squad?

Primarily for two reasons. First, with first-choice wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha injured, the selectors wanted a young deputy to Dinesh Karthik. Pant was the best choice, the selectors and team management felt, keeping in mind his performances for India A in the last 18 months. The other reason Pant became a favorite was because of his batting form on the India A shadow tour of the UK earlier this summer.

What did Pant do on that India A tour?

In the words of the India A coach Rahul Dravid, Pant showed the temperament to play the situation. The first evidence came during the ODI tri-series final against England Lions. Set a target of 265, Pant stayed solid after Hanuma Vihari, the last recognised top-order batsman, departed at 196 with 10 overs remaining. But Pant, in the company of Krunal Pandya, saw the team home comfortably, scoring an undefeated 64 off 62 balls.

Then, at Taunton, in the first-class match against West Indies A, India A were set a target of 321, and had lost the quick wickets of Karun Nair, Ankit Bawne and Vihari in the space of seven runs. Unruffled, Pant led India home, stitching together an unbroken 100-run partnership with lower-order batsman Jayant Yadav.

Pant's USP has been to play the game at an aggressive tempo even in first-class cricket. But, under the stewardship of Dravid, he has improved his ability to bat time and tailor his game to the situation. How far he has come will become evident when he walks in to bat at No. 7 at Trent Bridge.

Has Pant set any records?

He smashed the fastest hundred in Indian first-class cricket. That innings featured 21 sixes - another Indian record.

In the same season, at 19 years and 12 days Pant also became the fourth-youngest triple-centurion in first-class cricket.

Pant, who has played four T20Is for India, also has the second-fastest T20 hundred, and the fastest by an Indian. In IPL 2018, Pant smashed 37 sixes, the most by anyone in that season.

What do the pundits say?

"Rishabh has shown that he could bat differently. He has the temperament and skills to bat differently," Rahul Dravid, the India A coach, told bcci.tv recently.

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