Sydney, December 14
Wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant, who had been facing criticism right since last year’s World Cup for his ‘irresponsible’ shot selection, got a boost in the second practice match against Australia A with a 73-ball 103.
This innings, his first 100 in First-Class or higher form of cricket since his 159 not out in the Sydney Test in January 2019, is just the confidence-booster he needed, he says. The innings made him a favourite to get into the team ahead of Wriddhiman Saha for the Test series, which begins on December 17.
Pant had struggled with fitness and form in the IPL this year, with only one half-century in 14 innings, and he says he was determined to spend time in the middle in the practice match against Australia A. “In the first innings here I was unlucky as I felt the LBW decision was wrong from the umpire. In the second innings, my focus was to spend as much time as possible and the result is I got a good innings under my belt,” Pant said.
“When I went out to bat a lot of overs were left, so (Hanuma) Vihari and I wanted to build a good partnership. We wanted to bat as much as possible. I was just trying to give myself as much time as possible and slowly I started to develop confidence,” Pant told the BCCI website.
Pant reached his 100 in the last over of the second day by scoring 22 runs in it, off Jack Wildermuth. He said being struck on his stomach by the first ball of the over made him a “little angry”. “I needed 20-21 runs in the last over to reach 100,” he said. “First ball, I was hit on my stomach, so I got a bit angry, and I said to myself — ‘I have to try one-two (shots)’. So, in the flow, I continued to hit and got a good 100.”
“This hundred has been a big confidence-booster for me. It’s been a month I am in Australia, but I didn’t get the chance to play in the first practice match because of a stiff neck,” he added. — TNS, agencies