Dubai: Crucial game, almost a knockout game between Punjab Kings and Delhi Capitals, and you expect the captain to lead the way. But that was not to be with Rishabh Pant, who time and again has not measured up to the expectations.
Punjab Kings had played in to hands of Delhi Capitals by putting them in to bat after winning the toss. Delhi, after the early loss of David Warner, had recovered well, thanks to Sarfaraz Khan and Mitchell Marsh, who ensured they scored 59 runs in the powerplay. After the fall of Sarfaraz, Lalit Yadav anchored the innings well with Marsh and took the score to 98 at the end of 11 overs, almost 9 runs an over — which was very good.
The platform was set for Pant the captain to play his brand of attacking cricket. With the ball turning, Punjab skipper Mayank Agarwal once again turned towards Liam Livingstone, who had got the prize wicket of Warner off the first ball, to set the bait for Pant, who likes to go after the spinners.
The Delhi skipper took the bait and hit his trademark, one hand six. The next ball Livingstone stopped halfway in his run-up to see if the left-hander was coming in at him again. Sensing danger, Livingstone pushed the ball faster only for Pant to be stumped while trying another slog, off the last ball of the over.
What Pant could have done was to curb his ego and taken a single, but that’s not Pant, he wants to be the boss. The situation demanded sanity and him staying on the wicket was the need of the hour, but he blew that away and threw his wicket away. From 99 for 3, it became 108 for 4 with the captain back in the hut. It opened the floodgates and Punjab was all over Delhi with Livingstone getting another big wicket of Romvell Powell, Delhi slipped further and by the end of 16 overs, the score read 123/5.
From a strong position, Capitals allowed Punjab Kings to fight back and they could achieve that thanks to Pant, who did not read the match situation and the wicket and went for glory. Yes, T20 demands big-hitting but match-awareness is equally important.
Ex-India coach Ravi Shastri had said that Pant should play in Andre Russell-mode from ball one, play fearless cricket. We only remember how many games Russell has won, but not how many he has lost because of his style of play. I hope this game will make him understand the difference between fearless and careless cricket.