For someone who was labelled by MS Dhoni as his potential successor, Rishabh Pant has struggled to live up to the hype in the recent opportunities he got. While his wicket-keeping skills are still a work in progress, Pant's batting, where he failed to build on his stats, had attracted a lot of criticism.
But, on 24th March, the dashing left-hander silenced everyone by playing one of the most exciting knocks in T20 cricket. Carrying the baton for a new-look Delhi Capitals (DC), Pant smoked an unbeaten 27-ball 78 to power his team to a mammoth 213-run total against Mumbai Indians (MI) in the Indian Premier League (IPL) clash.
Coming out to bat, with his side looking to surge ahead at 112/3, the 21-year-old went about his business in the usual unorthodox manner. For someone who smacked his second ball in international cricket (Test debut against England last year) for a six, Pant took no time to settle at the crease as he began clobbering the Mumbai attack all around the park, with his best shot being a helicopter-flick off Jasprit Bumrah's yorker.
He notched up his fifty in just 18 deliveries and surpassed his idol Dhoni who had achieved the feat against Mumbai in 20 balls back in 2012. Pant's half-century was also the third-fastest fifty in the IPL. KL Rahul currently leads the list of fastest fifty in the IPL, having reached the mark in 14 deliveries last season. Sunil Narine and Yusuf Pathan share the second spot with their fifties coming in 15 balls.
Pant's blistering knock was decorated with seven fours and as many sixes, while his strike-rate of over 288 speaks about his big-hitting. To put things in perspective, Delhi's run-rate was 8.61 when Pant came out to bat, and by the time he was done (end of the innings), his side had surged to a run-rate of 10.65.
In reply, Yuvraj Singh's valiant fifty kept Mumbai in the hunt (for a while) and Krunal Pandya, too, chipped in with a 15-ball 32. But, the three-time IPL champions just couldn't break the first-match jinx, losing the contest by 37 runs - an opening game defeat for seventh season in a row.
For a man who was recently getting slammed for his exploits on the field, Pant's blazing knock served a stark reminder to his critics that he's here to stay.
Just Wow from Pant !— Virender Sehwag (@virendersehwag) March 24, 2019
Only one word for Rishabh Pant today. Wow. The sixes were exquisite but the boundary to get to 50 was simply special.— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) March 24, 2019 March 24, 2019
Rishabh Pant is a serious player !!!— Nasser Hussain (@nassercricket) March 24, 2019 March 24, 2019
If it was Andrew Russell at Eden, it is Rishabh Pant at Wankhade. Mind-blowing stuff from both these lads. As much as Death bowlers, these extremely talented strikers of the ball at the death need to be tagged as 'Death Batters' #MIvDC #KKRvSRH— Hemang Badani (@hemangkbadani) March 24, 2019 March 24, 2019