In the ICC World Cup 2019 match between India and Bangladesh at Edgbaston, Mustafizur Rahman had bowled a double-wicket maiden in the 39th over and taken out the prized scalps of Virat Kohli and Hardik Pandya in the space of three balls.
India, who were well placed at 237 for two at the start of that over had suddenly been jolted and lost the momentum. However, in the very next over, Rishabh Pant, India’s No.4 for the game, smashed Mohammad Saifuddin for three consecutive fours to take the momentum back in a crucial juncture for the team. Although India finished poorly in that game, Pant’s sparkling 48 off 41 balls gave India the much-needed push in the middle.
This knock would have calmed the nerves of the Indian team management a bit. Throughout this World Cup, Team India has struggled with getting a settled middle-order. The No.4 position, especially, has been giving the team plenty of headaches. After KL Rahul and Vijay Shankar failed to make any impression in the No.4 position, Pant was drafted into the squad and then the final eleven to take the spot. And in the two matches, he has played so far, and Pant has scores of 32 and 48.
While he hasn’t made any big score till now, Pant has shown flair, fearlessness, and aggression. These are all traits of the 21-year-old left-handed batsman that have made him famous around the world. And at the big stage, Pant hasn’t shown any signs of being bogged down or being overawed by the situation. He has played his natural game and looked to attack the bowlers while also being a tad mature about his stroke-play.
This bodes well for India who have now secured their place in the semi-finals. With at least two more games to go for them, the team management would hope that Pant can continue asserting himself and make a more significant impact at the No.4 position for the team. If he can do that, then a massive load would be lifted off the shoulders off Rohit Sharma and skipper Virat Kohli who appear to be doing the bulk of the scoring for India in this tournament.
Former Australian captain Michael Clarke certainly feels that Rishabh Pant at No.4 provides India an X-Factor as he has the ability of power hitting.
“Rishabh Pant at No. 4 gives India the power option. If he bats badly, he is going to strike at 100. If he strikes well, he is going to strike at 140 and 150. I think that helps Indian middle order on good wickets,” Clarke was quoted as saying to an Indian media channel.
Clarke is spot on with his assessment. Pant won’t hang around and eat up deliveries. He will give India the momentum to move the pace along. And if he can get going, then he can damage the opposition bowlers. Hence, Pant is a risk worth investing in. Especially in a tournament like the World Cup as he can win games out of improbable situations.
It will be interesting to see how Rishabh Pant goes in the next two games for India. If he can leave an indelible mark, then he would undoubtedly be set for the future of the Indian batting unit.