Rishabh Pant has silenced his critics again.
He hit his fifth Test century off just 89 deliveries to lead India’s turnaround in the rescheduled fifth Test in Birmingham.
In the process, he also broke MS Dhoni’s record for the fastest century by an Indian wicketkeeper-batter.
India were in danger at 98 for five after Virat Kohli, Hanuma Vihari and Shreyas Iyer fell in quick succession.
However, Pant teamed up with Ravindra Jadeja as the two left-handed players helped India cross the 300-run mark.
The two put on a double century stand, helping India reach 338/7 at stumps on Day 1.
While the world is raving about Rishabh, it’s important to understand the roles of men who have always believed in him and supported him, even in bad times.
Namely, Rohit Sharma and Rahul Dravid.
In November 2021, a tragedy struck Pant.
This is not something many people know about.
He lost his coach and mentor Tarak Sinha, 70, to cancer.
Sinha was a coaching legend at Delhi’s famous Sonnet Club.
Pant had always depended on Sinha for sports and life advice.
“It was like losing my father all over again,” said Pant.
Devender Sharma, Sinha’s assistant at the club said, “When news of Ustad ji being diagnosed with cancer first came, Rishabh was very disturbed.”
“But Pant is mentally strong—even when his father died, he came back two days after the cremation to play an IPL game and scored runs.”
However, even the strongest people need the support of friends and colleagues.
For an outrageously talented yet erratic cricketer like Rishabh, that support came in the form of unwavering belief in his abilities.
Rohit Sharma’s backing
Rohit has been one of Pant’s biggest backers.
Despite his errors and lack of judgement, Rohit has offered consistent support.
“His batting is his batting,” captain Sharma told reporters following the recent Sri Lanka series.
“There will be times when you smash your head and say ‘Why did he play that shot?’ but again we need to be ready to accept that with him when he bats. He is somebody who can change the game in 40 minutes.”
Rohit understands him well because he probably sees himself in Rishabh.
Former Aussie captain and Delhi Capitals coach, Ricky Ponting has an interesting analysis.
“When Rohit took over at Mumbai, he was quite a young man as well. “He would have been 23 or 24, similar to what Rishabh is here.”
“I know they are great mates and they talk all the time and they are probably exchanging things about leadership and captaincy along the way. I think there is every opportunity for Rishabh’s journey to be similar to Rohit’s.”
Former India wicket keeper Kiran More described Pant as a “very smart cricketer”.
“He has a great mind, and his reading of the game and ball-to-ball awareness are sharp,” he said. “He is a lot more shaant (peaceful) while keeping.”
This shows that he is a quick learner.
Pant’s wicket keeping has improved by leaps and bounds.
He has worked hard on match simulations and had vastly improved his footwork and collection of low catches.
Admits Saba Karim, “Pant has been really good at gauging spin,” he said. It shows his confidence behind the stumps.”
“It was just a matter of time before he showcased his skills [as keeper]. He is now a multi-skilled player like Dhoni.”
That’s high praise indeed.
We believe that Pant is a once-in-a-lifetime player and has the potential to be one of India’s greatest players.
Provided the selectors and captain believe in him.