Rishabh Pant: India’s new X-factor


India wicketkeeper-batter Rishabh Pant scored the fastest Test fifty by an Indian batter on Sunday when he completed his half-century in 28 deliveries on the second day of the 2nd Test against Sri Lanka in Bengaluru.
The ongoing series has been nothing short of fireworks, however, as a contest-Sri Lanka have failed to put up a fight. But, sparkling performances from Jasprit Bumrah and Rishabh Pant have helped entertain the well-versed Bengaluru crowd. On the second afternoon, Pant came in and unleashed fireworks straight away but watched Virat Kohli depart from the other end. The former India captain was done in by a similar dismissal as the first innings where the ball kept low and struck him plumb in front.
However, Pant took the game away from the Lankans by going after the bowling as soon as he walked to the crease and the wicketkeeper quickly brought up his fifty with seven fours and two sixes. Made from 28 balls, his half-century was the fastest by an Indian batsman, breaking the record set by Kapil Dev 40 years ago.
As in the first innings, Pant walked into a defensive field by Sri Lanka skipper Dimuth Karunaratne for his spinners.

Pant: Boundaries galore

But Pant found the boundaries at will. He charged at the spinners to hit two sixes, then put them off their lines by reverse sweeping, lap sweeping and scooping for fours. He showed the full range by leaning back to play the late cut and drive and loft over the covers.
Unlike most batsmen, the southpaw rarely shadow-bats between balls. Rather, he surveys the field, like a sentinel posted in an outpost to sniff out danger. Except that Pant is not looking to defuse any threat, but instigate some of his own.
With an array of his strokes, and his most potent weapon: his mindset, Pant strikes fear and panic in the opposition camp.
Such knocks — and the knock-on Sunday — will only burnish his reputation. This pushes the opponent to the defensive even before the first ball has been bowled, or the player has walked onto the field. As were Sri Lanka when he walked out to bat. Immediately, they stationed three fielders deep on the leg side — a long-on, a deep midwicket and a deep square leg.

Pant: Striking fear

The flamboyant wicket-keeper batter has developed a knack for piling quick runs. Moreover, the interesting aspect is, numbers and milestones don’t seem to deter Pant. Be it his first ball or even if he is in his nineties, he will smash a half-volley.
In fact, the 24-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman, who has scored four centuries in 28 Tests, has been dismissed as many as five times in the 90s. Only MS Dhoni has been dismissed as many times as him among designated wicketkeepers. Only one of those dismissals have come outside of India.
There is a method to his madness and India dasher Rishabh Pant seems to have cracked the code. The left-handed batter may have received flak for his rash shot selection but Pant has evolved into a pivotal element of the Indian team across all formats.