Rishabh Pant is being considered by many as the best keeper-batsman in Test cricket at present. In 2019, during a match at the Arun Jaitley Stadium, which happens to be Rishabh Pant’s home ground, you could hear chants of “Dhoni! Dhoni! Dhoni!”, opposing Pant’s inclusion in the team after he took a wrong review.
It wasn’t just the supporters from the stadium in Delhi that were questioning the wicketkeeper-batsman’s abilities. The majority of the country, from former cricketers to armchair experts, was doubting the skills of the 20-something-year-old.
However, Pant has come a long way from there. The 23-year-old has proved his naysayers wrong, made them eat their words, delete their social media comments and, most importantly, turned them into believers.
The Delhi lad has gone from strength to strength in the last two years by fixing his flaws from both behind the stumps and in front of it. Pant’s revival as a quality gloveman and a dependable batter has established him among the best in the business, especially in the longest format of the game.
As per the latest ICC Test rankings, Pant is currently the best wicketkeeper-batsman in the world, taking up the 14th spot and above his contemporaries, including South Africa’s Quinton de Kock, Englishman Jos Buttler and Pakistan’s Mohammad Rizwan.
The Indian’s climb can be attributed to the splendid show in the recent tour down under, which helped India retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
Pant rescued the team time and again with his gritty batting and was equally effective with the gloves. He showed great character even when his back was against the wall, helping the team draw the third Test.
But his best came in the last match. Playing at the Gabba, known as the Australian fortress, Pant tactfully fought the Australia pace onslaught, and cleverly faced Nathan Lyon’s clever off-spin to hand the hosts their first defeat at the stadium in 32 years.
The southpaw became the fastest Indian wicketkeeper to reach 1000 Test runs and is the only Indian ‘keeper-batsman to notch tons in England and Australia.
The other gloveman to come close to the red-hot form of the Indian is Mohammad Rizwan, but his overseas knocks couldn’t take Pakistan through while Pant managed to get crucial points for his team in a foreign land.
The continuous backing by captain Virat Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri has transformed Pant into a dependable figure in India’s red-ball unit. Pant has not only become a more mature batsman but has also worked on his keeping, especially against spinners.
He is surely not the best of all-time but has all the ingredients to become one of the greatest of the game. In the years to come, the Indian cricket team will reap the benefits of a supremely talented, sometimes reckless, but a definite match-winner called Rishabh Pant.
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