IPL 2019: The irrepressible leg-side genius of Rishabh Panthttps://indianexpress.com/article/sports/ipl/the-irrepressible-leg-side-genius-of-rishab-pant-5642567/

IPL 2019: The irrepressible leg-side genius of Rishabh Pant

Rishabh Pant will once again look to continue his prolific run of form as Delhi Capitals gears up for their duel against MS Dhoni's effervescent Chennai Super Kings.

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Rishabh Pant’s sweep looks innocuous, but it’s one of his percentage strokes. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

In the last eight IPL innings, Rishabh Pant has notched up 535 runs in 287 deliveries, at a strike-rate of 186.4. As he exhibited against Mumbai Indians, he accrues a majority of his runs through the leg-side. Most batsmen in this league and format do, but his efficiency has been stupendous. In fact, around 33 percent or one-third of all his runs in the IPL have come from behind the square-leg region. Pant though resorts to leg-side strokes in all formats of the game, as was evidenced in the Test series against Australia and England. These are some of his go-to strokes.

The pull: A compulsive puller, It’s a shot that’s reaped him rewards not just in the T20s and IPL, but also in the Test series against Australia, where he unfurled it with a great amount of ease against their pace battery. En route his spectacular 159 at the Sydney Cricket Ground, he tore into the rampant Pat Cummins with this particular shot.

Another reason for Pant’s success is his ability to execute the pull shot even on the front foot. Perhaps, a telling aspect of Pant’s batsmanship is his effective bottom-hand technique and the power he generates. Of the numerous shots, there was a particular one that stood out on Sunday evening — Hardik Pandya had bowled a length delivery well outside the off-stump, but Pant used his bottom hand and his power to bludgeon it over the square-leg boundary for a six. That it was grossly mistimed only increases that shot’s shock value by several notches.

Rishabh Pant struggled in the first over he faced before he unleashed himself. (Image Source: IPL website)

The flick: What had made this shot extremely productive was Mumbai Indians bowlers’ strategy adopted against Pant — short of a length aimed at his body, giving him absolutely no room to free his sinewy forearms. As Mumbai found out in the end, this proved to be their undoing as Pant used this as an opportunity to open up his hips and kick-start his blitz through the on-side with the twirl of his bat. What helped Pant make this shot his own is his clever use of the crease.

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Very few batsmen in contemporary cricket uses the crease to such an extent as the Roorkee lad does. Another player is Glenn Maxwell. All this backed by that exaggerated downswing, followed by the clean swing of the bat makes him extremely prosperous in the region between the square-leg and long-on.

Even though he does look ungainly at times and even loses his balance in the process, like while playing that one-handed hoick off Salam, it’s the sheer power, backed by his impeccable timing that sets the ball over the boundary ropes.

As many as 63 off Rishabh Pant’s 78 runs against MI came on the leg-side, which’s a feature of his game.

The sweep: Much like the flick shot, Pant gets into ungainly positions, so far as to entangle himself in the process, and falling over at times. Neither he, nor his Delhi Capitals team-mates would mind that, because Pant makes up for the lack of aesthetic appeal with his brute force

In that vein, Pant’s execution of the sweep shot was eerily similar to the manner with which former India all-rounder Robin Singh played. Unlike Singh, however, Pant possesses more skill and gumption to play this shot against spinners and fast bowlers with ridiculous ease.

Pant will once again look to continue his prolific run of form as Delhi Capitals gears up for their duel against MS Dhoni’s effervescent Chennai Super Kings.

One can be assured that he will back himself for another encore with that typical nonchalant shrug.

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