There is an old adage ‘you live by the sword, you die by the sword’ and if we had to name one Indian cricketer who symbolises this completely, it’s hard to look past Rishabh Pant, who seems to have made this saying his motto in life.
Whenever Pant steps out to bat, he makes things happen and puts the opposition under pressure with his fearless approach and the same happened on the reserve day of the World Test Championship final.
The 23-year-old player walked in to bat when India were in a precarious situation, having lost skipper Virat Kohli and the rock-solid Cheteshwar Pujara in quick succession in the opening hour.
With the World Test Championship on the line, everybody expected Pant to be more sensible in his approach and learn from the mistakes of his teammate but he kept on playing his natural game, even after getting a reprieve early on his innings.
He was batting on five when he edged a Jamieson delivery straight to the slip cordon but Tim Southee couldn’t get hold of the catch.
Despite his dropped catch, Pant was unfazed and continued to take the bowlers on. His mini-battle with Neil Wagner left millions of fans on the edge of their seats and while they enjoyed every bit of it, they also prayed for him to bat longer.
.@RishabhPant17 Box Office!— Jos Buttler (@josbuttler) June 23, 2021June 23, 2021June 23, 2021
Last ball - India lost Rahane.
Next ball - Pant stepping out to Wagner.
He is just different.
.@RishabhPant17 Box Office!— Jos Buttler (@josbuttler) June 23, 2021🇮🇳Anupam vishwakarma🇮🇳 (@AnupamV26007320) June 23, 2021June 23, 2021June 23, 2021
For this: Wagner is doctor.— Sorabh Pant (@hankypanty) June 23, 2021
Pant survived the morning session and walked back to the pavilion having won the mini-battle against all the Kiwis fast bowlers, Wagner, in particular, after having forced Kane Williamson to spread around his field.
Former New Zealand pacer Shane Bond was mighty impressed with Pant’s approach and lauded his counter-attacking game plan that left New Zealand players scratching their heads.
“I think Pant is winning it. I know he has missed a few but New Zealand have immediately spread the field. For me, Wagner has been a bit timid. I would prefer him to bowl a lot of short stuff to Pant,” Shane Bond during the post-lunch show on Star Sports.
From playing a reverse sweep to charging down the track, he tried everything against Wagner but, in the end, he played one shot too many and paid the price.
We know if there is one thing that is more volatile than the stock market, it’s the people’s opinion, especially on social media platforms.
As soon as Pant got out, all the praise turned into criticism and fans started questioning his careless approach and failure to adapt his game as per team’s requirement.
After Pant’s departure wicket, India’s innings collapsed like a pack of cards for the second time in the match and they were bowled out for 170 runs, setting a 139-run target for New Zealand, which they achieved by losing only two wickets.June 23, 2021
Pant’s batting works on the principle of a hit and miss and it’s true that had he been a little more watchful of the situation it would have helped India but making him scapegoat for all of India’s struggles in the game is complete nonsense.
That said, it’s safe to say that while Pant won the mini-battle against Wagner, it was Kane Williamson’s men who had the last laugh as they became the first-ever world test champions.