IND vs WI: Rishabh Pant scores first ODI half-century

Pant, under pressure for his poor batting form, dug in on a slow track at the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium and along with Shreyas Iyer bailed India out of trouble.

Rishabh Pant plays one through the leg-side en route to his 71.   -  B. Jothi Ramalingam

Rishabh Pant finally found form and scored his maiden international half-century against West Indies during the first ODI at the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium on Sunday.

Pant, playing in his 13th match, went past his previous best of 48 that he scored against Bangladesh during the World Cup held earlier this year. He was dismissed for a 69-ball 71 (7x4, 1x6).

It was a pressure-releasing knock, given the attention he had drawn for his poor batting form and his inability to build an innings when required.

Laying anchor

A determined Pant dug in on a slow Chepauk track and along with Shreyas Iyer bailed India out of trouble. He walked in after Rohit Sharma’s dismissal at 80 for 3 and batted his way through a tricky passage of play when run-scoring was difficult. The need of the hour was patience and timing and by playing out a maiden of Alzari Joseph the young batsman showed he was in for the challenge.

Having got his eye in, Pant then released the pressure by flicking Joseph through the midwicket for a boundary. He then went down on his knee and smoked Roston Chase for a maximum to break away the shackles.

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Pant wasn't just swinging his bat wildly but this time judiciously. With a well-set Iyer, Pant banked on singles, collected the twos and caressed the ball through the gaps. With the ball not coming onto the bat, Pant stood at least a foot outside the crease and drove the pacers with control. Soon he collected a couple behind square off Sheldon Cottrell to raise his bat as the dressing room stood up to applaud a timely knock.

'Match winner'

Before the start of the match, batting coach Vikram Rathour backed Pant and said a big knock was around the corner. “The reason why we keep discussing about Pant because he has immense ability and we all believe that he can be the X-factor in this Indian team. He is backed by the selectors as well as the team management because all of us believe that he is a good player. He is working hard on his game and his fitness. Once he starts coming good he can be a match-winner. He is being given the opportunity because he has done well in this format. Once he starts getting runs he can be a massive player for Team India,” Rathour explained.

With the big guns back in the shed, Pant, has made a small statement.

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