Pant storm which brought calm to Indian cricket
In the frenetic pace of the world, where we are pushed, hassled, and almost cornered every moment, a fleeting moment of peace is perhaps the most craved for; you blink and breathe and then pause, thinking, "woah! this is awesome” and then take a few strides to see something uniquely special and question, “was I a part of this?”
It was the fifth ball of the 18th over, it was Bhuvneshwar Kumar rushing in, it was the full ball wide on off stump; this was peaceful for the bowler, it was just a fleeting moment for young Rishabh Pant who shuffled across, set up a solid base and then scooped the ball over short third man and point. Yes, scoop over point and third man, scoop to the off side, "woah, was I a part of this?”
He then muscled a full ball to square leg, off balance, but with enough power. He smoked it for a six, removed his helmet, yelped and hugged Maxwell. That hundred was there, the maiden IPL century!
Along the way, the young flash of pristine brilliance was involved in two run outs, his mind was scrambled, his bat was not in sync with the mind; he came out, picked up Shakib, tonked him for a six and exploded.
Woah, “was I a part of this?”
Pant v Bhuvneshwar: 11 balls, 43 runs, four sixes and four fours
Pant v Rashid: 13 balls, 27 runs, one six and four fours
Perhaps two of the best bowlers were left ducking for cover, perhaps two of the best bowlers were forced to doubt their skills, their game, their entire purpose on the cricket ground… outrageous, a word which keeps getting strewn around for any random breeze hitting us, but this effort was OUTRAGEOUS, it was no breeze, it was an entire hurricane with the eye cornering the Sunrisers’ bowling attack!
“Was I a part of this?”
Yet, he was never caught in the moment. One might forgive him, he is barely 20, but Pant flicked another switch. Perhaps the switch exists for others, but it is just a figment of his imagination.
He caned 31 in the next nine balls after getting to his century.
The power of self-belief - Pant believed in it. He pummeled the best bowling attack into submission, it was his belief that he would not be coerced into believing he could be second and he did it, he sauntered out and lit up the Feroz Shah Kotla.
Delhi Daredevils, the perennial underachievers, needed this tonic. Perhaps this tonic might not be enough to save their season, but this tonic will ring through eras now; it will dominate headlines, it might never be eroded.
And as if it was all scripted, this innings had to disappear in the backgroud, albeit for a moment, as his side's meek bowling display allowed SRH to smile and chase down the score.
He slogged, he scooped, he drove, he cut, he punched, he smacked 59 runs off 18 balls in the last four overs, which is the highest any batsman has made in the last-four in these 11 years of the Indian Premier League!
The young man came in at number four after another jittery start on a surface which was turning, did the basics right, did only what was necessary to begin with, then started doing the things which were possible, tonking those very ‘spinning balls’. And almost as if it was all in the process, he did the impossible - he annihilated Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Rashid Khan.
Yep, along the way, he even played that scoop over point and short third man two more times. Kane Williamson, a generally unflappable person, could not conceal that smile, he was pleased. If not a part of the opposition camp, he would have hugged this prodigy!
63 balls, 128 runs, 15 fours, seven sixes, strike rate of 203.17, power sprinkled with moments of panache and dotted with audacity, Pant enamoured Kotla, Pant enamoured Mathew Hayden, Pant enamoured Ian Bishop, Pant drove home the fact that he is audacious, yet, when after all this dust settles, Pant made sure people still talk about him.
He was thundering at the Kotla, Delhi was witnessing a storm and at the very same time Indian cricket was smiling with glee, it was content and pumping its fist in ecstacy.
But then this is the thing with history, it never says ok, thank you, goodbye, it will stand up, and say, see you again…
Perhaps what Pant did will go down as the innings of this season’s IPL, but history will beckon again, it will challenge him, it will ask him…
“I will see you again, you good enough?"
We might then blurt out again, “we were there, we were there”.