3 reasons why Rishabh Pant can finish as highest run-scorer of T20 World Cup 2024 

England v India - 3rd Royal London Series One Day International
Pant has been in sublime form since returning from injury

Team India wicketkeeper-batter Rishabh Pant has been a revelation since returning from a 15-month injury layoff due to the horrific accident he suffered in December 2022. With question marks lingering around his form and fitness upon return, the 26-year-old responded in style during the 2024 IPL season.

The confidence derived from the consistent run in the IPL has helped Pant continue the excellent form in the ongoing T20 World Cup in the West Indies and USA. After a stroke-filled 32-ball 53 in the warm-up game against Bangladesh, the southpaw essayed another sublime 26-ball 36* in India's tournament opener against Ireland.

His incredible batting has earned high praise from his predecessor Dinesh Karthik, who went out on a limb to predict Pant as India's leading run-scorer in the World Cup.

"I genuinely felt he (Rishabh Pant) batted outstandingly well," Karthik told Cricbuzz. "I would actually go out on a limb to say that he could end up India's highest run-getter. He is getting into great positions and his choice of shots very, very good; I really enjoyed it.
"He has got his mojo back in terms of how he wants to approach an inning. Very aggressive right from the start, but more importantly, the way he got into positions to play certain shots tells me that he is going to be very, very potent in this World Cup."

While such a thought perhaps never entered anyone's mind a few days back, Rishabh Pant's current form could make him potentially the tournament's leading run-scorer. Here are three reasons why:

#1 Current form

Pant made batting look easy on a challenging New York wicket against Ireland
Pant made batting look easy on a challenging New York wicket against Ireland

It may be stating the obvious to say that Rishabh Pant is in arguably the best form of his cricketing career. Despite batting in the middle order, the Uttarakhand-born cricketer finished as the 12th leading run-scorer of IPL 2024 with 446 runs at an average of over 40 and a strike rate of 155.40. The tally was Pant's third-highest in his eight-year IPL career.

However, more than the IPL run, Pant's remarkable batting in his two stints thus far in the T20 World Cup has amazed experts and fans. It is well-known that the pitches in New York have been skewed completely in favor of the bowlers with exaggerated movement and uneven bounce.

Yet, Pant effortlessly stroked his way to a 32-ball 53 in the warm-up match against Bangladesh before retiring out to give the other batters an opportunity. In India's tournament opener against Ireland, the left-hander entered the crease after Virat Kohli's dismissal in the third over and finished with an unbeaten 26-ball 36.

With the pitches expected to be a grind for the batters throughout the tournament, Pant's early rich form could make him a leading contender to finish on top of the run-scoring charts.

#2 Batting at No.3 - More deliveries for Rishabh Pant at his best T20 position

One of the best-kept secrets has been Rishabh Pant's excellent T20 numbers batting at No.3. While the gloveman averages under 24 in 67 T20I outings, the number skyrockets to 38.25 in seven innings at one drop.

Even in the IPL, Pant's impressive overall numbers with an average of 36.10 and a strike rate of 148.90 have an uptick at No.3. The swashbuckling batter averages a sensational 39.40 at a strike rate of 169.10 in 13 innings at the position in his IPL career.

Team India's batting coach Vikram Rathour confirmed that Pant will continue at No.3 in the press conference after the Ireland clash.

"Yes, he has been batting really well. The two games he has played, he has looked really, really good. So yes, at the moment he is our number three, and it helps that he is the left-hander," said Rathour.

Batting at No.3 will also mean more deliveries for Pant to get set and use his inimitable skill level, especially against spin, to convert starts into big scores.

The combination of past success at the position and more balls at his disposal is ideal for an attacking stroke-maker like Rishabh Pant to amass runs aplenty.

#3 Being the lone left-hander in India's top four could help Pant with favorable matchups

Rishabh Pant's brutality with the bat against spin could favor him in the Indian line-up where he will likely be the lone left-hander in the top four. The Men in Blue will likely continue opening with Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, with the World's No.1 ranked T20I batter Suryakumar Yadav at No.4.

With three out of the top four right-handers, opposition captains may be forced to use left-arm and leg spinners in the first half of the Indian innings. That could play into Pant's hands as the southpaw has historically severe against spinners, especially those that turn the ball back into him.

Also added are the ground dimensions with one side of the boundary being shorter than the other. Should teams focus on restricting the other three right-handers in the top four, Pant could have access to the shorter side of the ground against spin.

Almost all the participating teams have a left-arm spinner up their ranks as their defensive option to contain runs. Yet, Pant could be India's trump card to neutralize that option, resulting in the possibility of him scoring big at a rapid rate against most opposition.

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