Having gotten off to a headline catching start in this Ranji Trophy season, Rishabh Pant has admitted that he played with a point to prove after being overlooked for India ‘A’ tour of Australia last month. The 19-year old, who represents Delhi in the domestic circuit, expressed his admiration for Virender Sehwag and Adam Gilchrist whilst hoping to turn out for his country in the near future.
Fresh from an attacking triple century against Maharashtra at the Wankhede Stadium, Pant asserted, “Yes, I won’t deny that I was very hurt after I didn’t make it to the India A team’s tour of Australia. But, then I realized that I have to score plenty of runs. Itna runs banaoon ki koi ignore na kar sake (Score so much runs that no one can ignore me).”
The left-hander took just 326 balls for his 308 inclusive of 42 boundaries and 9 sixes to help Delhi respond strongly to Maharashtra’s formidable first-innings total. In a match which saw as many as three 250-plus scores across both teams, no batsman was able to come close to his remarkable strike-rate of 94.47 on a benign pitch.
Pant quipped, “Nothing much. Just to focus on loose deliveries and don’t let go any of them. Viru bhai ne 294 (293 vs Sri Lanka off 254 balls) kitne balls mein banaye the (How many balls did Viru bhai take to make 293). Viru bhai and Adam Gilchrist are my idols. I also admire Virat bhaiya’s batting.”
He stormed into the limelight with his flashy stroke-play and chirpy wicket keeping during the U-19 World Cup earlier this year. A key member of India’s campaign wherein they ended as runners-up, the southpaw scored 267 runs from 6 matches at an average of 44.50 and strike-rate of 104.29 with one century and two fifties. The Haridwar-born player plies his trade for Sonnet Club which has produced quite a few national cricketers such as Ashish Nehra, Raman Lamba and Atul Wassan
Acknowledging the toughness instilled by the Delhi circuit, Pant gushed, “Sonnet is not a club for me. It means everything. The player that I am today, whatever I have achieved is because of Sonnet Club. And when you talk about Tarak Sir (coach Tarak Sinha), he is not a father figure but just like my father.
“He has taught me everything. I must also mention Ashish bhaiya (Nehra). At his age, the way he worked hard and got back into the Indian team was an inspiration for youngsters like me. He has also been a great guide.”
When asked about him being one of the prospects to succeed the long-serving MS Dhoni as India’s wicket-keeper batsman in the limited-overs formats, he felt, “You can’t think and put pressure on yourself thinking all these things. But when you start playing serious cricket, it is only obvious that you want to play for India. My dream is no different from others.“