Rishabh Pant played one of the best counter-attacking knocks in the history of Test cricket with his 146 off just 111 balls against England at Edgbaston. Pant was rested for the first T20I match against England. The wicketkeeper-batter, in a surprise move, was asked to open the Indian batting in the last two matches but he failed to produce anything significant. Since then a lot has been spoken about the experiment.
Former Indian spinner Piyush Chawla feels that the move was only to give Pant a “free hand.”
Chawla admitted that Pant was brilliant in the fifth Test against England but he wants the wicketkeeper-batter to replicate that form in white-ball cricket also. “Maybe just trying to give him that free hand because we’ve seen that in the last few games in white-ball cricket, he didn’t get too many runs. Although he was brilliant in red-ball, but he needs to get that form going in white-ball cricket,” Chawla said on ESPNcricinfo.
“That could be the reason because when you go and open the innings and if the first ball is in his arc, he is ready to go for it when the field is up. So I think that kind of role they have given to Rishabh Pant – ‘go and express yourself’. That’s what his game is all about. With fielders inside the ring, it becomes a little free hand for him. So that could be the reason they sent Rishabh Pant to open the innings,” he added.
In the 2nd T20I, Pant seemed to be in good touch as he followed his own style of batting. Pant slammed 4 boundaries and 1 six but he was ultimately dismissed after scoring a quickfire 26 off 15 balls. Rohit Sharma’s men eventually won the match by 49-runs and sealed the T20I series.
In the final match, Pant only faced five balls and had to return to the dressing room scoring just a run. While chasing a total of 216 runs, India failed to kick off their batting on a positive note and lost three quick wickets. Suryakumar Yadav produced a blistering 117 off just 55 balls but his cameo did not pay off as India could only manage to reach 198 for nine in 20 overs.