Delhi Daredevils got their revenge on Tuesday as they comfortably beat Gujarat Lions thanks to Rishabh Pant’s maiden IPL fifty. The 18-year-old India U-19 wicketkeeper batsman showcased the talent that made Delhi go all out to secure his signature.
This wasn’t even the first time that this has happened with Pant. There was palpable excitement at Jadavpur University’s Salt Lake Campus Ground in Kolkata before the finals of the tri-nation under-19 tournament on November 29, the cynosure of it all being an 18-year-old wicket-keeper batsman from India who missed out on the first match against Bangladesh only to do a star-turner in the next and keeping his place thereof for the rest of the tournament.
In the previous match against Afghanistan, opener Rishabh Pant had showcased his class with a 98-ball 118 that was studded with 14 boundaries and 4 sixes. He had scored 87 and 51 in the two games prior to that – all of them turning out to be match-winning knocks for the Indian colts.
He followed that with an impressive U-19 World Cup. Regarded as a prospect with immense potential, Pant has been making the headlines of a number of sports columns of late. Here are 10 things you probably didn’t know about him.
1. Rishabh Pant was inspired by Australian legend Adam Gilchrist to take up cricket as a career. Not unlike his idol, Pant is a left-handed batsman and plies his trade both in front and behind the stumps.
2. Hailing from an unknown corner of Haridwar, Uttarakhand, Pant had had his fair share of troubles trying to receive proper cricket training amidst the lack of facilities and infrastructure.
A move to Rajasthan in order to play age-group cricket (U-14) failed to yield expected results, which is when he decided to settle in Delhi. After months of earnest pleadings, his parents were finally convinced.
3. In Delhi, Pant was enrolled at the Sonnet Club. It is here that he met Tarak Sinha under whose auspices he matured into one of the brightest prospects in Delhi cricket. To put things into perspective, Sinha is a well-known name in the domestic circuit, having produced in excess of 100 First Class players including 12 international cricketers spanning four generations – higher than even Dronacharya awardees like DP Azad and Ramakant Achrekar.
4. The Gilchrist-fan is known for his aggressive strokeplay and decisive footwork – a fact that was amply evident in the four innings he played for India U-19s. In fact, his clean hitting with the unique ability to pick the length early is what had impressed his mentor at first sight.
5. Not many have the fortune to make their first-class debut at just 18 years of age, but the diminutive Pant has already done that and more. In only the second innings of his Ranji Trophy career, the southpaw struck a 71-ball-57 against Bengal which included 3 sixes and two hits to the fence.
6. Prior to his claim to fame in the U-19 tri series, Pant had captained India Green in the U-19 Challenger Trophy that was held in Pune from October 28 to October 31. BCCI conducted the tournament in order to provide a platform for players to seal a place in the squad for ICC U-19 World Cup in Bangladesh next year.
7. In spite of his aggression with the willow, the India under-19 opener remains a modest cricketer off the field. After hammering the century against Afghanistan, all he talked about were discipline and playing the ball on its merit.
“They were bowling loose balls which helped me. Missing the hundred in the last game was on my mind,” he said.
8. The left-handed opener made a half-century in 18 balls, the fastest in the U-19 level, against Nepal during the World Cup earlier this year. His match-winning knock of 78 off 24 helped India easily chase down a target of 169 with 179 balls left. He hammered five sixes and nine fours and ended with a strike rate of 325.00.
9. The young sensation also guided the Indian men to the semi-finals of the U-19 World Cup with his effervescent 111 off 96, laced with two sixes and 14 fours. He propelled India to 349 and Namibia were reduced to 152, giving the Men in Blue a semi-final ticket with a 197-run victory.
10. Pant was bought for a hefty Rs. 1.9 crore from a base amount of Rs. 10 lakh in the IPL 9 auctions. In the 31st match of the IPL this season, Pant and Quinton de Kock's 115-run partnership cruised Delhi Daredevils to an eight-wicket victory over Gujarat Lions. Pant, playing his third game this season, smashed 69 off 40 balls and also won the Man of the Match award for his knock.Published 05 Dec 2015, 11:21 IST