The emergence of Rishabh Pant as Indian cricket’s most promising talent
Although the Indian Premier League has had its share of controversies since its inception in 2008, it has also advanced Indian Cricket and has given it a new dimension in terms of quality.
Like many of its earlier seasons, the 2018 Indian Premier League witnessed the emergence of some of the most exciting young talents. Some franchises bought players from the Under-19 team that recently won the World Cup this year in February.
Skipper Prithvi Shaw was bought by Delhi Daredevils, while Shubhman Gill, one of the finest talents and one of the emerging stars of this team, who produced some stellar performances in the Under-19 World Cup was snapped up by Kolkata Knight Riders.
Apart from them, players like Sanju Samson, Ishan Kishan, Sidharth Kaul who were influential for their respective sides, produced some inspiring performances. All these players have made their presence felt with some enlightening performances and are billed as the future stars of Indian Cricket.
Though the players mentioned above have definitely played their part in their team's success, one player who caught everyone’s eye is Delhi Daredevils Rishabh Pant. Ironically, he too is a product of the Under-19 circuit. He was part of a team that lost the final of the Under-19 World Cup in 2016 against West-Indies.
Rishabh Pant highlighted his reputation as a young exciting prospect in this World Cup when he stuck an 18 ball half century against Nepal. Since then the Uttarakhand born has evolved as a player and is slowly taking some big strides.The Delhi dasher scored 620 runs in 13 matches in the 2018 Indian Premier League Season.
His whirlwind innings of 128 in 63 deliveries in a game against Sunrisers Hyderabad kept the fans buzzing all day on social media. That innings included 15 fours and 7 sixes, showed how destructive he can be when he gets going.
His 32 ball century in a Syed Mushtaq Ali tournament in January against Himachal Pradesh was another thrilling knock by the Delhi lad. He also holds the record for scoring the fastest century, completed in 48 balls in a Ranji Trophy match against Jharkhand in November 2016.
Though Delhi Daredevils couldn’t make it to the playoffs because of some below-par performances, Pant’s performances were a silver lining for them. He has amazed everyone with his power hitting, for which he was compared to Yuvraj Singh. The 21-year-old has shown his class with some swashbuckling performances.
Rishabh Pant is strong on both sides of the wicket and has this unique ability to up the ante depending upon the situation. Some ex-cricketers have suggested that the left-hander should be blooded in the Test as well as the One-day International team for India’s tour of Australia in November, keeping in mind next year’s World Cup.
His ability to handle pressure is what makes him different from some of the other younger players. One of his biggest strengths is that he is a natural stroke player who looks to play his strokes very much like the Punjab southpaw who dominated even the best bowling lineups with his aggressive intent.
Rishabh is one of those players who looks at ease while playing both spinners as well as fast bowlers. His temperament has been questioned because of his tendency to throw his wicket away by playing a rash shot and it is an area where he has to improve on.
Rishabh Pant has improved a lot and has shown tremendous maturity when it comes to building his innings. He also looks much more responsible and focused while holding the innings at one end.
Vijay Dahiya, the then coach of the Delhi Ranji team had stated that Pant has made some adjustments in his batting technique that has helped him evolve as a player. Playing in domestic circuit has also been a boon for the 21-year-old as it has made him a player who can play as per the situation of the game.
Playing in the domestic circuit has also transformed him into a player who looks much more composed during pressure situations. Rishabh Pant has 73 catches and 7 stumpings to his name in 23 first-class matches. His gritty performances against England A side in July prompted the selectors to include the left-hander in the third test.
Recently Rahul Dravid too had stated that Rishabh Pant has got the temperament to excel in both Tests as well as one day Cricket. He had also stated that the Delhi skipper was a big fan of former Australia wicket-keeper Adam Gilchrist who also batted at number seven in Tests and Pant wanted to emulate his performancesin the International arena.
He started his innings with a six off the second ball he faced from leg-spinner Adil Rashid. Pant scored 22 in the first innings and 3 in the second innings. His 22 runs in the first innings consisted of 2 boundaries and a six. He looked quite confident in that innings and most importantly in those conditions.
His wicket-keeping looked quite tidy in that game as the 21-year old took seven catches in the entire game. Although he dropped Jos Butler when the batsman was on zero in the second innings Pant looked consistent behind the stumps.
Former India wicket-keeper Farooque Engineer recently stated that Pant looked good behind the stumps keeping in mind his first game in International Cricket and only needs some minor adjustments in his wicket-keeping.
Rishabh Pant had also stated that playing in the domestic circuit has helped him assess the situation with much more maturity. He also went on to say that the experience of playing in domestic cricket has helped him play every ball to its merit. Making it to the national team isn’t easy and talent alone isn’t enough to sustain in International cricket.
Rishabh has to put in some hard yards like any other player to impress the selectors and above all show the right commitment and dedication to reach the pinnacle so as to compete with the best and against the best.