His firm handshake gives an indication of the power he boasts of.
More than firm, with a sense of confidence. It is the ability to express his game in the way he loves that sets Rishabh Pant apart.
His aggression at the crease is a nightmare for bowlers. “Crushing,” says Delhi coach K.P. Bhaskar, who mentored Pant this season. “I have not seen anyone hit the ball so hard and so far,” said Bhaskar.
Steady in technique, Pant is evolving as a batsman, constantly improving and improvising his stroke-play. It is not easy because the opposition scrutinises your strong points and exploits the weaknesses.
“I think he is a step ahead of the bowler. He can read the situation and adapt without losing time. What I like most about Rishabh is that he is fearless,” noted coach Tarak Sinha, who spotted and propelled the youngster from Roorkee into international reckoning.
Hard work has been his forte. His awesome talent can break the opposition because his range of shots can be exasperating for the trying bowler. His batting has frills. And Pant loves it.
“His bat-speed can be frightening. The impact that his bat makes on the ball is the difference between Rishabh and the rest. His brilliant body balance and hunger for runs makes him such an exciting batsman to watch,” avers Bhaskar.
Sinha, and Sonnet Club assistant coach Davendar Sharma, ensured Pant stayed focused. “His discipline is his strongest point,” said Davendar.
That Pant was on the selectors’ radar was known. As National selection committee chairman M.S.K. Prasad observed, “We have looked at identifying and grooming talent in the right formats. Rishabh is very strong in the format we have picked him for. The way he strikes the ball is simply stunning. We know he can play long and we thought it was the right time to give him a chance.”
Understudy to Dhoni
The presence of M.S. Dhoni in the dressing rooms can be a comforting thought for Pant, the understudy to one of the game’s finest icons.
“Dhoni loves to share knowledge and that will help Rishabh a lot. He can make the transition from the shorter to longer format with time and he will get proper opportunities to achieve his best,” notes Prasad.
“My only worry is he should not get carried away with his ability to play a wide range of shots,” cautions Bhaskar. “He won’t. I’ll ensure that,” assures Sinha.
A bright future beckons Pant as he takes his first steps in the fiercely competitive world of international cricket.
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