Rishabh Pant, then 17 years old opener carted eight sixes and 22 boundaries in his 133-ball 186 against a Baroda Cricket Association (BCA) XI representing a Delhi colts team in the Under-19 J.Y. Lele All India One-day Invitation Tournament in Baroda, on September 21, 2014, as former India wicketkeeper Kiran More immediately noted down his name on his mobile phone.
As if to reassure former keeper Kiran More, Rishabh Pant didn’t stop at helping Delhi win that game by 130 runs at the Moti Bagh Stadium. The next day, again playing as an opener, he slammed a 67-ball 120, which included seven sixes and 15 boundaries against a BCA Invitation XI to guide Delhi to a 125-run win.
Rishabh Pant Was Brilliant Behind The Wickets Against England In The 2nd Test: Kiran More
Kiran More claimed that keeper Rishabh Pant made the most of the opportunity from the backing he received from the team management. He added that the 23-year-old embodied the way Test cricket should be played and reckons he can play 100 or more Tests as he’s a long racehorse.
“Whenever I see a talented boy, I have a habit of noting down his name on my mobile. I said [to myself] ‘he’s a long racehorse’. Now, I say he is a 100-Test player, and not just because on Tuesday, he was brilliant behind the wickets against England in the second Test,” More, who was chairman of the national selection committee between 2004 and 2006, told IANS.
Rishabh Pant effected two jaw-dropping stumpings that of Dan Lawrence and Moeen Ali to help India wrap up the second Test against England on the fourth day winning by 317 runs. The stumpings were in addition to his brilliant one-handed catches to his left to dismiss Ollie Pope and Jack Leach in the first innings. In addition, he scored a crucial 58 not out in the first innings.
“Rishabh Pant has really worked hard in Australia, when he moves with the gloves you can see the difference in his reactions. He has shed a lot of weight and has worked hard on himself. It is showing the way he kept with so much turn and bounce, credit to him. We want him to keep improving as a wicketkeeper because we know the value he brings to the team,” said captain Virat Kohli after India’s 317-run win on Tuesday.
Despite questions on Rishabh Pant’s ability as a wicketkeeper and his weight, Kiran More says he never had any doubt about his talent and capability.
“Everybody had a question mark against his wicketkeeping. But I never had any. To play abroad is more difficult than in India. On turning pitches, a wicketkeeper is always going to come into play. Everybody saw today what he can do,” More, who has worked with Pant at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru in a few short stints, pointed out.
Rishabh Pant has played 14 of his 18 Tests abroad and only four in India.
“He has taken some great takes; he has affected some great stumpings. On the way, he’s going to miss a few. But he’s just 23 and is going to improve and become the top wicketkeeper in world cricket. His attitude is superb; he doesn’t care. Of course, there is a lot of scope for improvement,” he said.
Rishabh Pant scored 274 runs in 3 Tests in Australia averaging 68.5. He scored 91,11, unbeaten 58, and 8 in the 4 innings against England amassing 168 runs in 4 innings.
Rishabh Pant Is A Bundle Of Gited Talent And Is A Game Changer: Syed Kirmani
Former India wicketkeeper Syed Kirmani, too, is very impressed with Rishabh Pant who according to him is gifted as he performed brilliantly in the second Test at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium and warns him not to be complacent.
“He’s a bundle of gifted talent. His wicketkeeping and stumpings were marvelous, brilliant. His reflexes, agility, etc was superb on a vicious pitch. I don’t have words to express my feelings. He is a game-changer for sure,” Kirmani told IANS.
“This boy is abundantly gifted, and he should be left alone, and people should keep encouraging him. He still has to work a lot on his agility and reflexes etc. He has to make a little change in his attitude because complacency could creep in subconsciously,” said the former chairman of the national selection committee.
Rishabh Pant’s childhood coach Tarak Sinha said that the security of selection in playing XI has provided confidence to his ward. He mentions that scoring runs have helped him gain confidence in wicketkeeping.
“When one is assured of his place in the team he blossoms. That is a major reason for Rishabh’s good performance is this Test. He had the support of the entire team. In future he will only get better and better,” said Sinha, who coached Pant at his Sonnet Club in Delhi.“He scored runs in the first against England [91 and 11] and that provided confidence to him. And that confidence has rubbed on to his wicketkeeping. His concentration used to momentarily waver and that led to lapses. Now, his concentration is better,” he emphasised.
Rishabh Pant has scored 1,256 runs averaging 44.85 in 18 Tests, including two centuries and missing five others by a whisker besides six half-centuries. He has also taken 71 catches and effected five stumpings.