Sometimes, Rishabh Pant does unexpected crazy things. Sometimes it is praised. Sometimes, it’s not.
5 March 2021, India v England, Ahmedabad: The new ball has just been taken away by the away team. Although the track is not the most supportive for the Pacers, a new ball will always increase the chances of a wicket. Jimmy Anderson is one of its best exponents, with red cherries in his hands. After conceding two four-pointers in the last game, he looked very determined to give England a breakthrough. The batsman at the other end is a confident and in-form Rishabh Pant, 11 years short of his first ton at home.
Anderson came in with his silky run-up and landed the ball near the right length, while Pant reversed and swept the ball over the slip for four points. No one can believe what they just saw. Even the person who sees it from the best angle, the referee himself, takes 2-3 seconds to realize that he is obligated to signal the number four and not just enjoy the shot. The expression on Anderson’s face, returning to the bowling marker, was nothing but “wow.” It quickly went viral on social media. Many experts have called it pure bravado and bravado.
That’s the boldness of that shot. While most batsmen prefer to hit a new ball safely and then find a run, Rishabh Pant enjoys taking risks and showing a spirit of bravery. Time and time again, he kept hitting similar outrageous shots to break the bowler’s rhythm to a greater degree.
Image credit: BCCI
Fast forward to January 2022, and the second Test between South Africa and India is at a critical juncture. The visiting team lost two sets of batters in a short period of time, and they needed brief cooperation to stabilize the innings. They have Hanuma Vihari and Pant to trust. With a ball into his innings, Pant faced a nasty bouncer; the awkward fender landed in front of the gully fielder. Kagiso Rabada looked excited after hitting two and a half hundred and he was not in the mood to do anything for the batsman.
Pant was ready to face the third ball, and in order to do something a little different and distract Labada from his line and length, he seemed to have pre-planned his shot. Rabada threw a short ball and Pant walked out of the bowler almost dismissively, hitting 145km/h constantly on the speed gun. Even before anyone questioned his guts, Pant started walking towards the pavilion with absolutely no expression on his face. Soon social media was flooded with posts and tweets attacking Pant’s temperament, with some even doubting his abilities.
Image credit: Hotstar
Now, this is where Rishabh Pant’s extreme story comes in. When it’s over, he’ll be greeted by fans and pundits alike in a social media frenzy. But when things don’t go as expected, he’s attacked for doing something that’s completely unsolicited. Social media users can quickly become experts. As such, Rishabh Pant’s Test career tends to be like a pendulum, often swinging between two extremes.
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But come on, this is Rishabh Pant. His boldness makes him a Rishabh Pant unlike any other batsman. The pendulum has swung so many times – from Adil Rashid’s six on the second ball of his Test career to two dismissals against West Indies in the Nineties , as he wants to continue playing his natural game; from reverse smashing Anderson to stepping up against the faster, more dynamic Labada. Rishabh Pant has done it all and lived through it all in his short career.
But that’s why India has won the Border Garvaska Trophy for the second time in a row. Not only Gabba, SCG’s counter-attack 97 was also an inning for the bowling team to revisit their plans.
You are very depressed today. Tomorrow will surprise you. All in all, Rishabh Pant’s future is also likely to oscillate between two bold extremes, as that’s how Rishabh Pant gets its name in cricket.