With another scintillating knock of 146, Rishabh Pant in collusion with Ravindra Jadeja pulled India out of the rabbit hole the Jasprit Bumrah-led side found themselves on the opening day of the rescheduled 5th Test at Edgbaston on Friday. With India tottering at 95/5, Pant and Jadeja combined for a stand of 222 runs for the sixth wicket with Pant smacking 19 fours and four sixes en route to his 111-ball knock. At the close of play, India were at a healthy position of 338/7 with Jadeja on 83 not out.
This was Pant’s fifth Test century and the third against England and when asked why he scores heavily against England, the wicketkeeper-batter was candid with his response – he likes the opposition. “Opposition toh pasand hai actually, (I do like playing against the opposition), but in every match, I try and give my 100 per cent and I focus on my cricket, nothing else and the results follow,” Pant made a cheeky admission during the presser after day one’s play.
Pant, who has a career average of 43.04 in Tests, averages 38.10 against England in the 12 matches he has played so far but has notched more than a half of his Test centuries against England. In 2018 he made 114 at the Oval followed by 101 at Ahmedabad in 2021 before adding the 146 yesterday at Edgbaston. To go with his three triple-figure scores, he has notched up scores of 91, 58* and 50 against England.
Talking further about his mindset as he walked out to bat after England’s new-ball bowlers had uncorked the Indian top-order, Pant said the focus was to soak in the pressure and build partnerships. “The discussion was to build a partnership (when Jadeja joined him at the crease). In the team meetings also we do talk about this; when there is pressure not to take it individually, but look at it from a team’s perspective and start building small partnerships.
“The pressure was there after we lost 3-4 wickets early on, but if you focus on the pressure, you might not get the result; so I try to focus on the process and I am getting the results,” said Pant.
Further elaborating on the game plan on how he counterattacked England, Pant revealed that he played every ball on its merit and did not have any pre-set plan to go after any particular bowler.
“Especially in conditions like in England, if you see bowlers sticking to a particular length, it is important to disturb them (break their rhythm). I try not to play the same type of cricket and look to step out, sometimes go on the backfoot. I keep using the crease and I keep trying things.
“As a player, I give to look my 100 per cent, I try to play my percentages and that is what I am focusing for a fair while now. I do not focus on the bowler, I focus on the ball bowled, and if I feel it is there to be hit I will hit it, it was not pre-planned that I will go after a certain bowler,” said Pant.