India vs Australia: 'Sending Rishabh Pant up was a masterstroke,' Ponting hails Rahane's 'proactive captaincy'

Updated on Jan 13, 2021 10:14 AM IST

Speaking on Unplayable Podcast, Ricky Ponting hailed Ajinkya Rahane's decision to send Rishabh Pant above as a "masterstroke".

Ajinkya Rahane and Rishabh Pant(Getty)
Ajinkya Rahane and Rishabh Pant(Getty), New Delhi

When India stepped out to bat on Day 5 of the Sydney Test, the situation was precarious. Skipper Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara were in the middle and India had 8 wickets in hand. There was a mammoth target in front of the visitors and after Rahane got out in the 2nd over of the day, it seemed it would be another short day of Test cricket.

But then the India skipper made an unexpected move. Everyone expected Hanuma Vihari to come down as India would look to defend and push for a draw. But out came Rishabh Pant, who went on to play a fiery innings of 97, reviving hopes of an India win.

The victory was denied but Vihari and R Ashwin were able to snatch a memorable draw. Speaking on Unplayable Podcast, Ponting hailed Rahane's decision to send Pant above as a "masterstroke".

"Very good proactive captaincy or coaching for sending Rishabh up. For India to stay in with a chance to win, they needed to do that. He had a little bit of luck with Paine putting him down a couple of times," Ponting said.

"It's not all crash and bang with him, there is a lot of skill involved, and he is proper test match batsman to the point today where a lot of the commentators were saying can he play as a batsman in the middle order and have Saha keep.”

Pant was unbeaten on five off 34 balls before deciding to cut loose and how. He smacked three sixes off Nathan Lyon and wasn’t afraid of taking the attack to Australia’s premier spinner on a wearing fifth day SCG pitch. He and Pujara added 148 runs for the fourth wicket and even though Pant missed out on a century by three runs, his knock was important in helping India survive.

"It was a masterstroke to put him up there, but he still got to play that innings, and he did it. He does it in his own way; he does it with a bit of swagger and confidence,” Ponting added.

"Taking on Lyon like he did, even with fielders out says he backs himself and his skillset. I said at the start of the series that there is a chance for him to cement himself as India's keeper-batsman for the next 10-12 years and innings like today will go a long way in helping that."

The two teams will now meet at the Gabba in Brisbane in the fourth and final Test of the series which begins Friday.

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