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‘Have been given the freedom to express myself’ – Rishabh Pant

Rishabh Pant
by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Wicketkeeper batsman Rishabh Pant was one of India’s stars against Australia on day two of the fourth Test, smashing a magnificent 159* at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

The left-hander played a pivotal role in his team’s dominating performance on the day – India declared at 622/7 – notching up invaluable partnerships with Cheteshwar Pujara (89 runs) and Ravindra Jadeja (204  runs).

After Pujara was dismissed for a masterly 193, Pant soldiered on and batting aggressively, especially after reaching his hundred. He ascribed the effort to the freedom given to him by the team.

“The best part of my batting is that everyone has given me the freedom to express myself,” he said. “So every time that I go to bat I enjoy myself.

“The team plan was to bat for as long as possible. I was batting according to the plan and runs came as a result.”

And while Australia struggled to break India down – just one dismissal per session – Pant said that it wasn’t due to lack of effort on the bowlers’ part.

“Obviously, when you bat for too long, the body gets tired. But their body language was good,” Pant told the reporters after the day’s play. “They were pushing themselves to do well. But today we did well and that’s why we got this score.”

Having missed on two centuries in recent past – he was dismissed for twin scored of 92  in India’s home Tests against the West Indies last year – Pant admitted to being nervous at Sydney.

“To be honest, I was a little nervous [in the 90s] because in India, when we were playing the West Indies, in the last two innings I got out on 92 and 92,” he said. “I was scared slightly but I got through that phase early.”

The wicketkeeper has amassed 350 runs in this series already, going past MS Dhoni’s tally in Australia across nine Tests – 311. He also became the youngest wicketkeeper to record a 150 in a Test match.

That Pant could not convert those scores as well as the strings of 20s and 30s he got earlier in the series was down to him batting with the tail, he said, adding that playing with proper batsmen at the SCG helped him settle down a little bit more.

“I don’t think anything changed for me, but the main thing was that I was playing with batsmen this time. Most of the time when I got those starts, I was playing with the tail,” he pointed out.

“So if I am batting with the tail, I have to think differently, because most of the time I have to score runs. But when you are batting with a batsman, it’s a different thing. You have seen it today.”

The 21-year-old’s banter with Tim Paine in Melbourne where the Australian captain asked the Indian if he could babysit received fresh impetus when his “babysitting” picture with Mrs Paine was circulated on social media with a cheeky undertone.

Pant, however, called it merely a coincidence that the picture was  posted on social media.

“It’s a way to keep yourself positive,” said Pant about his tete-a-tete with Paine. “To keep yourself busy. If you’re fielding for a long time, the body gets tired. But how you keep yourself positive and not let your concentration wane is up to you. This is my way to do it and it’s working for me.”

On this pic with Mrs. Paine he said, “It was lovely meeting them[but] I don’t think I have to change myself for something like that. The only thing [is that] they put that photo in Instagram and it got viral. Nothing [babysitting] like that.”

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