Not often do we see a target of 209 being chased down with 2.3 overs remaining, in a T20 match no matter how experienced or well polished the batting line-up is. But the unexpected happened on Thursday at the Feroz Shah Kotla as Daredevils not only achieved their highest successful chase in the IPL, but also knocked Gujarat Lions out of the play-off race, all thanks to Rishabh Pant. (Results | Fixtures | Points Table)
The 19-year-old Delhi youngster’s innings seemed surreal from the first ball itself. He was aware of the situation of his team and what they were chasing and planned his innings in accordingly. Starting off his batting with sixes and fours, Pant took away all the pressure from Sanju Samson which allowed him to settle down.
Pant approach gave his team an ideal start. A boundary in each over kept the pressure on Gujarat Lions bowlers. In the end, he made 97 runs and with help from Samson, took his team to win. His 43-ball included nine sixes and six boundaries.
Dealing in sixes, he forgot that the game includes singles and doubles as well. The highlight of his innings was when he smashed James Faulkner for three sixes and a boundary. Speaking about his knock, Pant said that he was focused on playing his normal game. Pant’s performance was praised all over on social media.
Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar tweeted, “One of the best Innings I have seen in the IPL & that includes all 10 seasons.” Former Indian cricketer and expert, Ravi Shastri was thrilled to watch the ‘Pant-show’. “Pant’s audacity last night and Samson’s sheer talent will give India’s T20 team a new face to it.” Shastri tweeted after the match.
Delhi Daredevils coach Rahul Dravid expressed his emotions after the match,“What I found impressive in Rishabh’s batting is that he was not worried about his hundred. He was always looking to take the team home” he said.
Pant has established himself on many occasions, his consistency in domestic cricket followed by the shorter format heroics is a very loud signal to the selectors. Pant has all the capabilities to shine in limited format of the game with the kind of aggression and sensibility he shows on the field.
Pant’s wicket-keeping skills will have to be enhanced if we are looking for a permanent replacement of MS Dhoni in the future. Although, he can face some competition for a position that already has Parthiv Patel and Wriddhiman Saha.
It won’t be too long when we’ll see Pant making his one-day international debut for the Indian team. But his performance didn’t go unnoticed. Gujarat Lions captain Suresh Raina walked up to Pant to console and congratulate him when he was dismissed before celebrating with his team.
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