'He was told to lose weight, respect game, work hard on keeping': How Shastri & Co. worked on Pant's transformation
India vs England: From being left out of India's Playing XI to smashing a third Test century, Rishabh Pant finds himself on a different playing field.
There was a time last year when the future was looking bleak for Rishabh Pant. After an insipid performance in the Indian Premier League, the young wicketkeeper-batsman was left out India's limited-overs squad that was travelling to Australia. Pant was still a part of the Test squad, but he was left out of the playing XI for the first Test in Adelaide.
After suffering a shocking 36 all out in the 2nd innings of the Day/Night Test against Australia, Pant was named in the playing XI for India in the 2nd Test at MCG. India won the Test, even though the keeper faced flak for his work behind the stumps.
But from the third Test, the script changed for the youngster. He smashed 97 runs in the 2nd innings at SCG on the final day of the 3rd Test against Australia, and almost won the match for India. Whatever little was left, Pant completed in the 4th Test, as he hammered an unbeaten 89 runs to help India win the Test series 2-1 Down Under.
Pant's glorious return to form continued against England as he struck 91 in the first Test Chennai, and then scored 58* in the first innings of the 2nd Test at the same venue. On Day 2 of the 4th Test, Pant hammered his 3rd Test hundred and helped India take a mammoth lead. He was named the Player of the Match for his performance after India won the 4th Test by an innings and 25 runs.
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India coach Ravi Shastri spoke on Star Sports after the match and explained how the team management worked on the transformation of Pant.
"Pant has been simply magnificent. We were hard on him. Nothing comes easy. He was told in no uncertain terms that he has got to respect the game a little more. He's got to lose a bit of weight and work hard on his keeping. We know the talent he has and he has responded," Shastri said.
"He has worked like hell for the last few months and the results are here to see. Yesterday's innings was the best counter-attacking innings I have seen in India. It was a two-phase innings. He built a partnership with Rohit playing against his nature - to do that is not easy - and to turn it on after 50. Keeping has been magnificent and Washi was outstanding too."