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Friday, March 05, 2021

Free & fearless: How Rishabh Pant’s 4th innings fairytale unfolded at Gabba

Rishabh Pant's 89 on the last day of the fourth Test in Brisbane was instrumental in helping India win the series Down Under.

Written by Rahul Sadhu |
Updated: January 19, 2021 3:27:57 pm
Rishabh Pant, India vs Australia, Australia vs IndiaRishabh Pant hits the ball to the boundary (File Photo/AP)

Rishabh Pant and his love affair with the fourth innings continued at the Gabba as India chased down a record target to win the Border-Gavaskar trophy with three overs and three wickets to spare on the last day of the series. Pant averages 43.52 in Test cricket but in the fourth innings it shoots up to an astonishing 87, which includes two hundreds and four half-centuries– one of which was the unbeaten 89 on Tuesday.

Batting in the fourth innings of a Test match is indeed a challenging task. From a crumbling surface to the pressure of chasing a target, it is anything but easy. Hence, a crucial knock played in the fourth innings can prove decisive and that is exactly what Pant did.

While in Sydney, he lived by the sword and died by it, at the Gabba he shouldered the responsibility to take India home. With the total at 167/3 in the 57th over, the sight of Rishabh Pant walking to the crease to replace Rahane suggested India was still chasing a win.

With Pant’s ability to strike the ball at a brisk pace, India always had a chance to got for the kill. Batting fearlessly, Pant played some breathtaking cover drives off Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood in the final session. Against the off-spinner Nathan Lyon, he cut, stepped down, and even played the audacious paddle-sweep to keep the pressure on the opposition.

A moment that mattered 

As Pant continued to counterpunch, he benefitted from a missed stumping chance. It was the 69th over of India’s innings where Lyon got on to turn and the bounce and beat both Pant and Paine. Pant was batting on 16 at that stage. The Australian wicket-keeper was also deceived by the turn that Lyon generated from the pitch as he missed the ball resulting in four byes. Lyon was left shocked as Paine missed a regulation stumping.

Pant’s love affair in the fourth innings

There is something about Pant and fourth innings. His first Test hundred — 114 against England at the Oval was in the fourth innings and so was his 97 at the SCG and the match-winning 89 at the Gabba.

According to Cricviz stats, Pant averages 79.50 runs per dismissal in the 4th innings of Tests. Only two players (with 300+ runs) in the history of Test cricket (Bruce Mitchell of South Africa and Jeffrey Stollmeyer of West Indies) average more in the 4th innings than the Indian left-handed wicket-keeper. Here are some more records where he stands out —

Indian batsmen to make 89+ more than once in the 4th innings while saving or winning a Test:

Sunil Gavaskar: 4
Sachin Tendulkar: 2
Sourav Ganguly: 2
Rishabh Pant: 2 (in a week)

Highest Knocks by an Indian keeper in the 4th Innings:

Rishabh Pant 114 v Eng
Rishabh Pant 97 v Aus
MS Dhoni 76 v Eng
P Patel 67 v Eng

Best batting average for ‘keepers in 4th innings away from home (min 5 innings)

Pant – 87.00
Knott – 57.00
Wadsworth – 46.66

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