Former India fielding coach R Sridhar reckons that Rishabh Pant succeeded in Australia during the iconic 2020-21 tour because he loves pace and bounce as well as the challenge that comes with playing in such conditions.
The 2020-21 tour of Australia catapulted Pant to superstardom as he played two standout knocks. His 97 in Sydney went a long way in India saving the Test match. The left-hander then struck an unbeaten 89 as India beat Australia at The Gabba by three wickets to clinch the series 2-1.
Incidentally, Pant was promoted to No. 5 in the batting order in the second innings, both in Sydney and at The Gabba. Explaining the move, Sridhar told Cricket.com:
“That decision came after a discussion among Ajinkya Rahane, Ravi Shastri and Vikram Rathour. We needed a left-hander to put the left-right combination in and we promoted him to No. 5. The wickets were nice and flat. It was the perfect stage and he went hammer and tongs.
“He showed glimpses in Melbourne when he scored 20-odd, but Sydney was something different,” Sridhar added.
Analyzing the reason behind the aggressive left-hander’s success with the willow Down Under, the 52-year-old opined:
“He showed that he is a man born to perform in Australia. He loves pace, bounce and the extra challenge that Australian pitches provide. It brought out the best in him.”
Pant was named Player of the Match for his terrific innings in the final Test as India chased down 328 to breach Australia’s fortress.
“I still have the pen with me” – R Sridhar reveals Rishabh Pant’s touching gesture
Opening up about his interactions with the 24-year-old, Sridhar admitted that it was limited as the coaches did not believe in encroaching on players’ personal space. He was, however, touched by a gesture from the young gloveman. Revealing details of the same, he said:
“We don’t interfere in his personal space a lot. As a coach, I only spoke to him when he had the time. But when we retired (Shastri, B Arun and Sridhar’s tenure ended last year), he sent a beautiful little Parker pen on the day of my retirement to my room. He said, ‘all the best sir’ and I still have the pen with me.”
Since his exploits in Australia, Pant has gone on to play a few more memorable knocks and is rated very highly among the current crop of young batters.