'In my time, we had Sehwag, Yuvraj, Dhoni': Sourav Ganguly hails 'game-changer' Rishabh Pant, calls him a 'match-winner'
Sourav Ganguly, the BCCI president, has expressed his likeness towards Rishabh Pant, calling the young wicketkeeper-batsman a game-changer. Ganguly, who worked closely with Pant as part of the Delhi Capitals coach staff in IPL 2019 explained how Pant, whose batting has been on an upward curve since the tour of Australia late last year, has shown signs of being a match-winner for India.
Ganguly, a former India captain, who has given some of the best match-winners to Indian cricket, such as the likes of Yuvraj Singh, Virender Sehwag, and MS Dhoni, feels Pant possesses traits similar to these aforementioned names.
"I have seen Pant very closely and I believe in match-winners. When they get going on their day, they single-handedly can win matches. Rishabh Pant is such a player," Ganguly told India Today. "I have also said this in the past, had he stayed at the crease for 5 or 6 overs, India could have won the Sydney Test. He is a game-changer. I like match-winners. In my time, we had Sehwag, Yuvraj, Dhoni."
Pant endured a tough 2020, a year in which he was dropped from India's limited-overs set-up. Included in the Indian Test squad for the tour of Australia, Pant missed out to Wriddhiman Saha in the Playing XI for the first Test, but after India were bundled out for a record low of 36 all-out, the 23-year-old came into the team and almost immediately made a mark.
Like Ganguly mentioned, Pant produced a stunning knock of 97, almost winning India the third Test in Sydney, which ended in an epic draw. But Pant's best was saved for the last as India stared at a mountain of runs. Needing 428 to win in the fourth innings of the Brisbane Test, Pant batted spectacularly with the Indian lower order, scoring an unbeaten 89 and helping India register a memorable win, which sealed the series 2-1 in favour of the hosts.
Come the England Tests, Pant again began with a bang, scoring 91 in the first match even though India lost it in Chennai. Pant sizzled with another impressive half-century, which proved pivotal to India taking a decent lead, but once again, Pant's best knock came in the final Test of the series, which saw him score his third Test ton, but more importantly, the manner in which he got them is what impressed the most. Ganguly sounded awed at the ridiculous ease at which Pant took on the English bowlers.
"Look at the way he played against England. India were 146 for 6 (4th Test in Ahmedabad). The match could have gone anyway. He turned it around with his knock. Look at his game sense. The second new ball came in. His counterattack against Anderson was brilliant," Ganguly added.