Rishabh Pant’s love affair with England was once again on display when India were chasing a 260-run target on Sunday. The Southpaw smashed his maiden ODI hundred to get India over the line after the top three batters – Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, and Virat Kohli – got out cheaply. He ended up with an unbeaten 125 off 113 balls, with the help of 16 boundaries and 2 sixes, taking India home with 47 balls to spare.
It was an occasion when Pant seemed to be having clarity about his job with the bat in hand. The wickets had started tumbling and India needed a man to anchor the innings. The wicketkeeper-batter took the onus on his shoulders and played an innings to remember.
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The beginning was obviously slow as he took time to understand the condition and settle down himself. The more he spent time in the middle, the higher his confidence levels rose. Until he reached his maiden ton, he played like an old-school cricketer, respecting the good balls and going after the loose ones.
After Pandya departed for 71, he shifted gear and notched the triple figures off 106 deliveries. As the visitors started to sniff victory, Pant also transformed himself into what he really is – a solid hard-hitter.
With 24 more needed in 9 overs, Pant decided to let himself loose and took David Willey to the cleaners. The England pacer was hammered for 21 runs with the help of five boundaries in the 42nd over, leaving the tourists with just three to win in the remaining eight.
Pant unleashed a wide array of strokes, going berserk against Willey. The first one was hammered over mid-off, following it up with a powerful pull to square leg. The left-hander drove the next delivery through extra cover and then, made it four in four with another pull. The fifth delivery, which was a half-volley, was whacked through mid-on, close to Jadeja’s head.
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Had Pant made it six in six, the game would have ended in the 42nd over itself but Willey bowled a yorker to end the over while the India youngster picked up a single to keep the strike. Joe Root brought the next over while Pant reverse-swept for a boundary to finish the chase successfully.
Pant scored the highest score by an Indian wicketkeeper in a SENA nation. Speaking at the post-match show, he said he enjoys batting in England and like the atmosphere.
“I always enjoy playing in England, at the same time enjoy the atmosphere and the situation. The more you play the more experience you gain,” Pant said.