Pace legend Zaheer Khan heaped praises on Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya for their match-winning 133-run partnership in a series-decider at Old Trafford, Manchester. India won the third ODI by 5 wickets to clinch the three-match series 2-1. The duo revived India’s chase when they were four down for 72 and put them in the driver’s seat by counter-attacking the English bowlers.
Pant remained unbeaten on 125 runs off 113 balls which was laced with 16 fours and two sixes. While the flamboyant all-rounder scored 71 runs to give support to Pant during the 260-run chase.
Zaheer said that Hardik took the pressure off Pant by batting at a good strike rate which allowed the southpaw to get settled in the middle.
“Both of them batted really well. Pant took his time initially and walked out when they were 20-odd for two. But Hardik batted really well. He was fluent in his innings, batted with a really healthy strike rate, and took the pressure off Pant,” Zaheer said on Cricbuzz.
He further heaped praise on Pant for his ferocious character after Pandya’s departure.
“Once Hardik got out, instead of going a couple of gears down, Rishabh went a couple of gears up. That’s his character. He likes to think in an aggressive manner and really finished the game in style,” he added.
Pant reached his century in 106 balls and after that, he unleashed on David Willey to slam him for five back-to-back boundaries in an over to take India closer to winning. In the end, he played a reverse sweep off Joe Root’s first delivery of the match to finish things off in style.
Zaheer said that Pant silenced his critics and made a statement by finishing the game for India.
“What is important is the character shown by both of them to absorb pressure, build a partnership, with one of them going on to finish the game. That is the example which you would want to give anyone while building a team culture.”
“Questions were asked of Rishabh Pant in white ball cricket. But here he has made a statement that if he is in, he will finish off the game,” he added.