Ahmedabad, India: The India team management often shields Rishabh Pant from criticism by calling him a "special talent" and the 23-year-old lived up to the billing on Friday, smashing a potentially match-winning century in the fourth and final test against England.
Ben Stokes spearheaded England’s lion-hearted bowling effort in the first two sessions, but Pant turned the game on its head with a spectacular late assault to put India on the box seat.
Known for his six-hitting prowess, Pant first helped India eclipse England’s first-innings total of 205 before exhibiting his breath-taking strokeplay.
Pant particularly stood out for his treatment of test cricket’s most successful fast bowler when James Anderson ran in with the fresh second new ball in hand.
Pant stepped out to hit him for a boundary and, in Anderson’s next over, reverse-swept England’s premier seamer to race into the 90s.
Equally impressive was how he brought up his 100, by going on one knee and sweeping rival captain Joe Root for a six.
Former captain and current Indian board chief Sourav Ganguly took to Twitter to laud the “unbelievable” talent, tipping him to be “an all-time great in all formats in the years to come.”
Team mate Rohit Sharma highlighted Pant’s worth after the second day’s play.
“We need that spark in the middle and he brings that to us,” Rohit told reporters.
“He is batting in his own style, which is absolutely fine from the team perspective, because he seems to be getting the job done, which is more important.”
Pant’s wicketkeeping skills may not impress all but there is little doubt about his batting potentials.
Rohit said the team management had explained to Pant how he should approach his batting and was happy how the left-hander paced his knock in Ahmedabad.
“In the first half of his innings, he was quite respectful (to bowlers), he was trusting his defence,” Rohit added.
“With people like Pant, you need to back their skills, back their ability... Management completely understands that and he’s been given that freedom which is very, very important.
“It’s a great sign. He’ll flourish, he will give you these kind of knocks every now and then.”