It isn’t easy to overcome bereavement and get down to the job straightaway. It might be a tad more difficult when it comes to cricket, with all the expectations and millions of people watching on telly and at the ground. Only those with the character of steel haven’t let it affect their cricket. Ask Sachin Tendulkar. Ask Virat Kohli.
On Saturday, in front of one of the liveliest IPL crowds, Rishabh Pant kept going about his job despite just two days after losing his father in a cruel twist of life. His fifty eventually went in vain after Delhi Daredevils were shot out for 142 in pursuit of Royal Challengers Bangalore’s 157/8 but what stood out was Pant’s courage.
His selection itself was surprising, given Pant had joined Delhi Daredevils only the previous day. But mentor Rahul Dravid, who has been watching Pant since his days as India U-19 coach, perhaps knew a few things about him more than anybody else.
Pant’s arrival couldn’t have come at a more precarious situation. Having lost three wickets on a tricky pitch, Delhi Daredevils sent out their youngest batsman in hope of a miracle. Batting wasn’t easy, even though Kedar Jadhav’s well-crafted 37-ball 69 in the first innings suggested otherwise.
The dashing left-hander, picked by for a record price last year, came to the middle looking absolutely unfluttered. Only few months back did Pant score the fastest Ranji Trophy century against Jharkhand. If there is a ball to be hit, he will hit them irrespective of his personal score or that of the team’s.
Nothing had changed, certainly not in the IPL. Pant showed all was well when he danced down the track and whacked Iqbal Abdullah for a six over midwicket. This was the first ball he faced in IPL 2017. Pant grafted a few singles but he was more eager, as ever, to get those sixes and fours. They came in regular intervals.
He first rocked back to top edge Shane Watson over square-leg boundary for a six. Next over, he again went after Abdullah, scoring 14 off four deliveries. All this while, Daredevils weren’t helping their cause by playing reckless shots. Chris Morris was perhaps too excited after getting a four so he gifted his wicket to Abdullah. And when Tymal Mills tried to act too clever by unleashing a slower ball, Pant just went across the stumps to pull it over long-leg. The shot was miscued but the short boundaries at Bengaluru made it look good.
Pant ultimately departed trying one of his risky shots. This time it was a sweep but Pawan Negi’s delivery arrowed in to uproot his leg-stump. Pant may not have won the game for Daredevils but he sure won a lot of hearts with this innings.