Rishabh Pant, who had been India’s hero in the series win in Australia and the series against England in India, has gone off the boil once more.
After the heroics against Australia where he was instrumental in India chasing 329 at the Gabba by scoring an unbeatable 89 which helped India not only breach Australia’s fortress but also win the series in their own den, he carried on the good work in the following series against England in India. He scored a fantastic hundred in the fourth Test match at Ahmedabad to help India qualify for the World Test Championship.
But since the World Test Championship final against New Zealand till the ongoing Test at the Wanderers, Pant has played seven Test matches and has just scored one fifty in 13 innings at an average of less than 20. More worrying is that in the 13 innings he has played, he has got out six times for single digit scores and more often than not, he has thrown his wicket away going for a wild slog early in his innings.
India were well placed at 155/3 on Wednesday when Ajinkya Rahane got out after making 58 and India were 120 runs ahead. India lost another set batsman when Cheteshwar Pujara was trapped by Kasigo Rabada, who looked the most dangerous bowler from South Africa. He was rattled by a vicious bouncer by Rabada and Rassie van der Dussen sleged Pant.
To show who is the boss, Rishab danced down the track the next ball and went for a wild slog and what he managed was an outside edge to put India in a spot of bother. The best way to silence the opposition is to let your bat do the talking and not get worked up by someone sledging you. Opposition teams do get into your skin but that’s how you take it in your stride and counter it. In this scenario, Pant played into the hands of South Africa and paid the price by gifting his wicket by going for wild slog on only his third ball.
Pant might have played only 27 Test matches but has been part of the Indian team for the last five years and has also captained Delhi Capitals in IPL and has got enough experience. Test matches, mind you, are won with temperament and a lot of fight and that's what separates the men from the boys. That's what South Africa captain Dean Elgar showed on Wednesday rather than a rush of blood.
- Cricket enthusiast Anis Sajan is the Vice-Chairman of Danube Group