Pained by Aussie skipper Tim Paine, young Indian keeper Rishabh Pant gave it back to Paine where it pained the most with a swashbuckling 159 at Sydney. In the process Pant became Asia's number 1 wicketkeeper and shattered MS Dhoni's 12-year-old record. He is now the first Indian wicket-keeper to score a hundred against Australia in Australia in a Test match.
New Delhi, Jan 4: Pained by Aussie skipper Tim Paine, young Indian keeper Rishabh Pant gave it back to Paine where it pained the most with a swashbuckling 159 at Sydney. In the process Pant became Asia's number 1 wicketkeeper and shattered MS Dhoni's 12-year-old record. He is now the first Indian wicket-keeper to score a hundred against Australia in Australia in a Test match.
Pant is creating waves in Australia both with his bat and sledging from behind the wickets. Shining with the bat, Pant became the highest scoring Indian wicketkeeper. He remained not out at 159 off 189 balls, before skipper Virat Kohli declared at 622/7 at the SCG. Pant' score is highest by an Indian wicket-keeper in an overseas test, bettering Dhoni's 148 against Pakistan in Faisalabad in 2006. Pant went past Dhoni with a senational boundry off pacer Josh Hazlewood over mid-off
In his knock, Pant smashed 15 boundaries and a six.
The 21-year-old keeper now holds joint record of the highest score by an Asian wicket-keeper outside the sub-continent. He joins Bangladesh’s Mushfiqur Rahim who scored 159 runs against New Zealand in Wellington in 2017.
Before Pant, the highest score of an Indian keeper in Australia was 89. That record was held by former wicket-keeper Farokh Engineer who achieved the feat in Adelaide in 1967.
Rishabh Pant felt the "nervous 90's syndrome" on Friday but said that Ravindra Jadeja's presence at the other end helped him play with freedom unlike previous Test matches, when the young keeper had to bat with the tail.
Pant, who became the first Indian keeper on Australian soil to hit a hundred, added 204 runs with Jadeja (81 no) for the seventh wicket to almost bat the home team out of the contest.
When asked if anything changed as he was getting out in 20's and 30's, Pant replied: "I don't think anything changed from my side. The main thing was that I was playing with a batsman (Jadeja) this time. Most of the time, when I got a start, I was playing with the tail.
"If I am batting with the tail, I have to think differently because most of the time, I have to score the runs. But when you are batting with a batsman, that's a different thing. You have seen it today," Pant said on his superb 159 off 189 balls.
He has been given complete "freedom to express himself" by the team management and that has helped his batting. "The best part of my batting is that everyone in the team has given me freedom to express myself. Every time when I go to bat, I just enjoy myself, that's the only thing I love to do," said Pant.
He admitted that getting out on 90's against West Indies did work on his mind. "To be honest, I was a little nervous, because in India when we were playing West Indies, in the last two innings, I got out on 92 and 92. So I was scared slightly but I got through that phase quickly," Pant said.
The obvious question about comparison between his hundred against England at the Oval and the one at the SCG was asked."Every hundred I score in international cricket is special for me because I have just started my career. But the main thing is that I don't think about hundreds. I just always think about only one thing - what the team needs from me. That's the only goal I have."
The youngster said that he is learning new things about his game everyday and the process of improvement will continue till he is playing the sport. "Obviously, you can learn from anyone when you are going through a bad phase. It's a learning process when you are playing cricket. Till such time that you are playing cricket, the learning process continues. If you use that experience and implement in the match, then the performances flow and you get out of the hard phase," he said
Pant dropped a sitter given by Usman Khwaja off Mohammed Shami's bowling but he wants to remain positive rather being disappointed. "As a wicketkeeper, we look forward to only one thing - to be positive because this is not a one-ball game. You have to be on the field till you get the opposition out. So you have to be positive because if the next chance comes and you don't grab that, your morale will go down even more I guess. So you have to positive all the time," he stated.
News24 Bureau/ PTI