Kolkata: The grin on skipper Virat Kohli’s face in the Indian dressing room when Rishabh Pant reached a defiant, and potentially match-saving century in Ahmedabad on Friday - was understandable. The current team management had invested a lot of faith and patience in the talented, fearless wicketkeeper-batsman over the last few years and the Delhi youngster has started finally producing the results since the Australia tour last year.
It was Pant 2.0 who scored a mature 101, his third Test century, as he put on an inavluable 113 runs for the seventh wicket with the hard trier Washington Sundar (batting 60) to take India to safety and with it - on the road to the final of World Test Championship final in June.
The day’s honours were till then tilted in favour of England, whose bowlers had India scrapping for runs at tea and still a good 52 runs short of England’s first innings total. The Pant-Sundar partnership then helped them reach 294 for seven at the end of the second day with a healthy lead of 89 runs.
‘‘How good is he? Unbelievable..what a knock under pressure...not the first time and won’t be the last time..will be an all time great in all formats in the years to come.keep batting in this aggressive manner .thats why will be match winner and special..,’’ former skipper Sourav Ganguly, now the BCCI president, was effusive in his praise on social media.
England bowlers had reduced India to 146 for six at one stage, with Ben Stokes forcing Kohli to play at one which had extra bounce and held it’s line to be caught behind for no score.
James Anderson had claimed three wickets while Stokes and left-arm spinner Jack Leach took two each.
However, Pant made light of the tough conditions and reached his third Test hundred with a six off Joe Root’s spin. The 23-year-old, who smacked Anderson for his 13th boundary with an audacious reverse hit over slips, finally fell to the veteran quick and walked off to a standing ovation.
Stokes earlier took two key wickets, including Kohli, and catching Ajinkya Rahane in the slips added to his key role after hitting 55 on day one. He combined with Anderson, who bowled 11 maidens in 20 overs to make India work for their runs after they resumed the day on 24-1.
Leach took the day’s first wicket after trapping Cheteshwar Pujara lbw for 17 with the overnight batsman adding two to his score. Stokes generated pace and bounce at the venue where England lost the previous match inside two days on a vicious turner.
The allrounder denied an in-form Rohit Sharma his fifty when he trapped him lbw for 49.
England (first innings) 205
India (1st innings)
Overnight 24 for one
R. Sharma lbw Stokes 49
C. Pujara lbw Leach 17
V. Kohli c Foakes b Stokes 0
A. Rahane c Stokes b Anderson 27
R. Pant c Root b Anderson 101
R. Ashwin c Pope b Leach 13
W. Sundar Not Out 60
A.r Patel Not Out 11
Extras (8b 5lb 3nb 0pen 0w) 16
Total (94.0 overs) 294-7
Fall of Wickets : 2-40 Pujara, 3-41 Kohli, 4-80 Rahane, 5-121 Sharma, 6-146 Ashwin, 7-259 Pant To Bat : Siraj, Sharma
Bowling: Anderson 20 11 40 3, Stokes 22 6 73 2, Leach 23 5 66 2, Bess 15 1 56 0, Root 14 1 46 0.