Before the Australia tour, Pant was in the firing line of the critics. He dropped catches, he was not scoring runs and even lost his place in the Indian team. A lot of people believed that he’s overrated. Had he failed in Australia, it would have been very hard for him to come back in to the Indian team. But the series against Australia proved to be a career-defining for him. He was drafted into the playing XI after India’s poor show at Adelaide and played a brisk knock of 29 in the first innings at Melbourne.
With series tied at 1-1, Sydney was an important game. Australia dominated India for most part of the game and set them a daunting task of 429 to win. At 102-3, India’s chances of saving the match looked grim but then walks Rishabh Pant and played one of the finest innings you’d see in a long time. At one point, India looked good to chase the score. However, Pant’s natural instinct saw him fell for 97. With him gone, India had to contend with a draw, that was no less than a win. The game in Sydney proved why players like Rishabh Pant are important to a team. They might not be that consistent but on their day they can win you games from hopeless situations.
Pant failed to finish the game in Sydney but Brisbane gave him another opportunity to become a hero. Chasing 329, against a class attack on a Brisbane wicket, Pant looked fearless and stroked an unbeaten 89 to take India home. All those people who were criticising Pant for his casual approach suddenly became his admirer. Pant did the same against England as well. In the first Test, India were struggling at 73-4 before Pant joined Pujara to reconstruct the innings. With him at the wicket, the tides turned and India started clawing back in the match. But once again his natural instinct of playing aggressively cost him his wicket.
There is a vast difference between the Pant that played against New Zealand and the one that’s playing against India. He did play a few gems before but was not consistent. But now, he’s doing that on a regular basis which is a massive plus for India. And the confidence is reflecting in his wicket keeping as well. The more games he’ll win for India, the more confident he’ll get. He’s a player with immense potential that can turn out to be the next big thing in Indian cricket.