Just two weeks ago when Rishabh Pant had a poor T20 series against South Africa at home, the daggers were out that he does not warrant a place in the team.
He was not able to lead the team from the front as a captain and was getting out in the same fashion again and again, leaving his fans frustrated.
Come England, in the all-important deciding Test at Birmingham against a confident England team, Pant walked in to bat with India 64 for three after being put in and saw the exit of Virat Kohli and Shreyas Iyer, leaving India tottering at 98/5.
Treating Anderson with disdain
In walked Ravindra Jadeja, the last recognised batter, in the 23rd over under overcast conditions with Jimmy Anderson making the ball talk and Mathew Pots was making life miserable for all Indian batters. But that did not ruffle Pant. His first attacking shot was against Anderson, stepping out as if he was a spinner and clattered him to the boundary.
Ben Stokes, England captain, thought there is an opportunity to get Pant and brought in Jack Leach, who had a 10-wicket haul in the previous Test against New Zealand, and tried to bait him with a teasing field. Pant took the spinner on and hit him for two fours and a six and sent out the signal he was up for the challenge.
Backs to the wall
When this ploy did not work, he brought back Potts, whom Pant took a liking and treated him with disdain as his analysis read 72 runs of just 14 overs at one point. Pant was ready for everything Stokes threw at him and even reverse swept Anderson to show who is the boss. The left-hander got to his fifth Test century off 89 balls with 18 fours and three sixes and took India to a respectable position of 260-plus from a hopeless 98/5.
There might have been times when Pant’s shots might not come off, but when it comes it’s like gold and will be a match-winning one, specially in Tests. He did it at Gabba, Ahmedabad, Cape Town and now again today at Edgbaston when the Indian team were backs to the wall. That’s why he is called the X-factor for team India.
England got a taste of their own medicine, which they had done to New Zealand playing attacking cricket. Pant just did the same to them and made England team look ragged on the field and clueless thanks to Rishabh Pant.