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India vs England: Starting from zero isn’t easy - Rishabh Pant

Rishabh Pant’s India keeping apprenticeship didn’t start in limited overs because the biggest star from the hinterland with roots in Uttarakhand like him is still going strong. He is yet to play with MS Dhoni in blue but constantly turns to him for guidance.

cricket Updated: Aug 25, 2018 14:39 IST
N Ananthanarayanan
N Ananthanarayanan
Hindustan Times, Nottingham
India vs England,Rishabh Pant,Rishabh Pant cricket
India's Rishabh Pant leaves the pitch during the third Test between India and England at Trent Bridge.(AP)

Rishabh Pant was introduced as the team’s youngest at a media interaction soon after the Trent Bridge win on Wednesday, but India’s newest Test wicketkeeper is no babe-in-the-woods. The 20-year-old had played four T20s, but it was his first keeping experience for India, and ended with seven catches.

The best was a dive to his natural leg side to pick Ollie Pope off Ishant Sharma. Two were at the business end of bouncer plans for Lord’s Test centurion Chris Woakes. In the first innings, it was off the one who keeps him laughing on the field, Hardik Pandya — he has said Pant is a ‘lambe race ka ghoda’. He stuck out the right glove while flying to left.

Winds of change are blowing in the India team. Jasprit Bumrah, the strike bowler, is four Tests old. Prithvi Shaw, 18, the U-19 World Cup-winning skipper, replaced Pant as the team’s youngest hours after the Trent Bridge game.

DHONI-LIKE STORY

Pant’s India keeping apprenticeship didn’t start in limited overs because the biggest star from the hinterland with roots in Uttarakhand like him is still going strong. He is yet to play with MS Dhoni in blue, though the Delhi Ranji skipper constantly turns to him for guidance.

The youngster’s journey from Roorkee chasing his cricket dream, even spending nights at gurdwaras and in uncertainty before honing his skills under veteran Delhi coach Tarak Sinha isn’t less eventful than Dhoni’s story.

READ: Mohammad Azharuddin advice for free as son gets into Goa Ranji team: Official

No wonder he was a touch philosophical about his rise. “Starting from zero isn’t easy, but I did. There is struggle in everyone’s life, and there was in mine too. But you realise if you work hard, with dedication, you’ll definitely achieve the goal,” Pant said at a Trent Bridge squash court turned media conference room.

He was ready when skipper Virat Kohli handed him the India cap on the morning of his Test debut — Pant’s solid batting for India ‘A’ in England this summer was crucial for that moment. “Keeping in England is always difficult because the ball wobbles a lot behind the wicket (late swing). The thing is I’ve been playing India ‘A’ cricket since the last two-and-a-half months in England, so it has been helpful.”

TRIGGER MOVEMENT

Experts see a trigger movement to left (he bats left-handed) as a chink (he also takes a short step forward as he crouches) and highlighted it on TV after a late shift to right saw him drop Jos Buttler off Bumrah when batting on one in England’s second innings. Buttler hit 103, but it didn’t hurt as India were well ahead by then.

“It’s a big challenge,” he admits. “But the thing is Bumrah bowls with a different angle (into a right-hander). So, sometimes we react to it. I reacted too much on that ball and the edge came off. It was not too difficult a catch, I could have pulled it off, but it’s part of the game.

READ: Pakistan are favourites to win ICC World Cup 2019 title: Fakhar Zaman

“As a keeper you have to wait for the outside edge … That is what I have learnt after that. That is the only solution.”

He is the first Indian to hit a six to get off the mark in Tests, the second ball he faced, off leg spinner Adil Rashid. It was a nervous hit though. “I was nervous. Everyone is nervous when they play their first match. (But) when I see the ball, I don’t think too much, just react to it. I was playing normal cricket.”

Pant was handed the Delhi Ranji captaincy, and it helped. “It helps a lot as captain because you have to take the responsibility for the team as well. As a youngster when you are handed the responsibility and you react well to it… and playing IPL also helps you a lot.”

First Published: Aug 25, 2018 14:38 IST