Former Pakistan spinner Danish Kaneria believes Rishabh Pant's match-winning hundred in the third ODI against England on Sunday (July 17) was similar to the iconic partnership between Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif in the Natwest Series Final in 2002.
With India two down for 21 runs, the southpaw had to curb his natural instincts initially in pursuit of the 260-run target set by England. The wicket-keeper batter found an ally in Hardik Pandya at the other end and stitched together a crucial partnership for the fifth wicket.
Opining that Rishabh Pant rebuilt the innings just as Yuvraj and Kaif did after a top-order collapse, Kaneria said on his YouTube channel:
"Pant's innings reminded me of Yuvraj and Kaif in the Natwest Trophy final. Even there, the top-order batters were gone in a collapse, the youngsters helped India cross the line."
The former leg-spinner added:
"Pandya and Pant also similarly put up a crucial partnership. They broke the bowling unit. Pandya is in a great rhythm now, he has worked really hard on his fitness."
Team India recently commemorated 20 years of their historic Natwest Series triumph. Chasing 326 at Lord's, the Sourav Ganguly-led side were reduced to 146/5 at one stage. Youngsters Mohammad Kaif and Yuvraj Singh then put on 121 runs for the sixth wicket as the Men In Blue scaled the target in the final over.
"There are only a few players who can match him in terms of talent" - Danish Kaneria on Rishabh Pant
Rishabh Pant's maiden ODI century came at a time when he was under fire for his recent outings in white-ball cricket. It was a controlled knock, as he spent some time in the middle and guided his team over the line comfortably. His heroic efforts with the bat earned him the Player of the Match award.
Claiming that the Indian wicketkeeper-batter will go on to be a world-class player, Kaneria said:
"Rishabh Pant played with a lot of maturity, he is going to be a world-class player. There are only a few players who can match him in terms of talent. He can even convert his 100s to 200, that's how big a player he is."
The former Pakistani spinner concluded:
"He is extremely confident as well. If you have players like Pandya and Pant, targets like these become easier to chase."
Arguably one of the busiest cricketers around, Pant has been given a short break and has been rested for the three-match ODI series in the Caribbean. He is next slated to be seen in action during the five-match T20I series against West Indies.