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Eng vs Ind, Pataudi Trophy 2021: Unadulterated Joy, thy name is Rishabh Pant

England vs India, 5th Test: Rishabh Pant hit century at edgbaston, scored 146 off 111 balls. Pant added 222 runs for sixth wicket along with Ravindra Jadeja on Day 1.

Eng vs Ind, 5th Test, Day 1, Top Performances_ Rishabh Pant's 146 off 111 balls rescue India from 98-5 to 338-7 at Edgbaston _ Walking Wicket (Images ©Associated Press)
Pant's 146 off 111 balls rescue India from 98-5 to 338-7 at Edgbaston (Images ©Associated Press)

On the third ball of the 57th over on Day 1 in the Edgbaston Test between hosts England and visitors India, Rishabh Pant, who the ball before had already whipped Jack Leach out for a flat boundary over the cow corner, again used his feet to loft the same bowler straight for the same result.

By the time, the ball crossed the rope, Rishabh Pant was down on his back looking at the sky in Birmingham on a beautiful sunny afternoon. With that sort of hitting, the left-hander ensured that India found themselves in a strong place at the end of the opening day in the rescheduled fifth Test of Pataudi Trophy 2021.

India faced usual troubles at the top

India got off to a decent start thanks to another new opening duo of Shubman Gill and Cheteshwar Pujara due to the unavailability of Rohit Sharma due to Covid-19. But James Anderson showed his class for the umpteenth time to dismiss Gill for 17 before squaring up Pujara in the hands of third slip for the 12th time, the most Anderson has dismissed a batter in Tests.

After a brief spell of rain, India lost Hanuma Vihari before watching former India captain, Virat Kohli dragging the ball onto his stumps on a personal score of 11. Shreyas Iyer, who did play some aggressive shots, too was sent back as India found themselves in all sorts of bother at 98/5 in the 28th over.

Pant showed early signs of intent

When the left-hander strolled out to the middle, he tapped the first ball and almost crossed 11-yards as the ball rolled to the hands of the cover fielder, England captain Ben Stokes, who had a laugh about it.

Early in his innings, he jumped out and crashed Anderson for a straight boundary. It wasn’t that he was charging in on all the balls but still ended up finding the gaps in the field and in the blink of an eye made his way to 22 off 28.

Jack Leach over went for plenty as Pant went berserk

Ben Stokes introduced Jack Leach into the attack very early even on a murky cloudy day in Edgbaston in a hope that Pant will make a mistake. In the second over of the left-arm spinner, who in his last Test against New Zealand in Headingley picked up 10-166 winning the player of the match award, Pant grabbed 14 runs thanks to his back-to-back boundaries followed by a six.

After using his feet in collecting the first boundary, Pant in a cat-and-mouse act pulled the next short ball over the backward square leg fielder for a boundary. Off the very next ball, Pant charged down the wicket and smacked the ball downtown for a six.

Eng vs Ind, 5th Test, Day 1, Top Performances_ Rishabh Pant hits fastest century by an Indian wicket-keeper in Tests _ Walking Wicket (©Getty Images)
Rishabh Pant hits fastest century by India wicket-keeper in Tests (©Getty Images)

Pant and those funky shots are always a sight to watch

No one wants to keep their eyes off the India wicketkeeper batter even for a split second. When Ben Stokes came to bowl, Pant tried to cut a ball so wide that he would have never reached close to even using two bats. He finished that over with another curious shot, sliced through point to the boundary.

Stokes, even after that treatment, kept Leach on the attack and Pant just whipped out him off the backfoot; the ball, after beating the deep square leg fielder, touched the boundary cushion as Pant marked his 10th Test fifty in just 51 balls.

Talking about funky shots, Pant in a normal Jimmy Anderson over tried to reverse scoop him only to get two runs; if one’s memory cells are still very powerful, the mind would fly back to Ahmedabad when the same incident took place some time back.

Pant kept the onslaught going against Potts

Mathew Potts, with 14 wickets at an average of 23.29, at the start of the summer against New Zealand, was undoubtedly the pick of the bowlers for England. Then he found Pant doing Pant things.

Just on the second ball after Tea, Pant taking a small stride forward, drove a ball through the line for another four. Perhaps, he knew Potts would try to come on his body and two balls later, he punched the ball for the same result through the square in the off-side.

One over later, Pant played two almost identical shots to gather eight runs; he rolled his wrist to play the pull fine of the deep fielder comfortably. At the start of the next Potts over, the 24-year-old Pant brought his bottom hand into play to whip the old cherry through mid-wicket to bring up 2,000 Test runs.

Without any risk, Pant collected 30 off 24 balls against England’s best bowler of the summer as the nightmare of breaking the sixth wicket partnership for the hosts kept on being a distant dream.

Pant stretched himself to fourth overseas hundred

Stokes reinstalled Leach back into the attack probably thinking Pant could again hole out in an attempt to play those funky shots. Well, he was half right as Pant did play those shots but didn’t lose his control.

With two back-to-back boundaries, using his feet, in one of which he was down on his back in the middle of the pitch by the time the ball touched the rope, Pant moved to 96. And when he waved his hand celebrating his fifth Test hundred, second in England, Pant, hard to trust, was diving back for his second run like he might not get the run if he missed this chance. It was percentage cricket from Rishabh who’s been out in the 90s six times.

Pant rewrites the records in his own way

Rishabh Pant now has most Test centuries (4) than any other India wicketkeeper batters outside Asia; all other wicketkeeper batters (Vijay Manjrekar, Ajay Ratra and Wriddhiman Saha) jointly have three centuries.

Rishabh Pant joints an elite list of Indian wicketkeeper batters to score two Test 100s in a calendar year. With hundreds in Cape Town at the start of the year and now in Birmingham, Pant is the only person on the list to touch the feat outside India.

His 89-ball century is also the third fastest Test hundred for India outside Asia. This 89-ball 100 is also the fastest hundred in the 120-years of history at Edgbaston. It’s also the fastest century by India wicketkeeper batters, breaking the old record set by MS Dhoni who had clubbed a 93-ball century against Pakistan in Faisalabad.

Rishabh Pant also became just the third Indian batter after Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli to score a Test hundred at Edgbaston. Pant is also just the third visiting wicketkeeper batter after Dinesh Ramdin and Adam Gilchrist to mark a century at this ground.

Eng vs Ind, 5th Test, Day 1, Top Performances_ Rishabh Pant raising his bat after scoring 5th Test century. Rishabh Pant scores 146 off 111 balls. _ Walking Wicket (©BCCI_Twitter)
Rishabh raising his bat after scoring 5th Test century (146 off 111 balls) (Images ©BCCI/Twitter)

Pant ended with a 111-ball 146 knock

In the 61st over of the innings, Pant thumped Leach for 21 runs thanks to two boundaries and as many as sixes; one of the sixes went ten rows back even after being hit by one hand. In 91 balls, Pant has now scored 147 Test runs against Leach at a strike rate of 161.5 with 15 boundaries and nine sixes.

Pant pulled an off-spinning bouncer of Root for a boundary and cracked another six down the ground before edging him to the lone slip. When he arrived in the middle, India were going at around 2.64 runs per over and by the time he left the field with a 111-ball 146 that was arranged by 20 boundaries and four half-a-dozen shots, India were scoring at a near 5 runs per over rate.

Pant and his blessed knack of achieving overseas hundreds

It felt like when all the odds go against him being under pressure, Pant tends to squeeze up his quality game at the very moment. When he scored his maiden hundred in England back in 2018, he marked the century in just 146 balls before cracking a 189-ball unbeaten 159 knock the following year in Sydney against Australia.

At the start of 2022, when India were under all sorts of pressure of setting a target against South Africa in the decider in Cape Town, Pant shone with a 139-ball 100*. And again, in a series-decider at Edgbaston, when India had lost their top-order cheaply, Pant carried them to 338/7 from 98/5 at one point of time.

Even after losing an hour or so due to rain, this game is still in the fast forward mode thanks to Pant.


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