Former Australian skipper Ricky Ponting praised the Indian captain Ajinkya Rahane and the coaching staff for promoting Rishabh Pant at number five on the final day of the Sydney Test match against Australia on Monday.
India’s stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane was dismissed early on the final day which had put the visitors on the ropes.
However, Rahane later revealed in the post-match presentation that they wanted to keep the right and left-hand batting combination at the crease. The strategy worked wonders for the tourists as Pant played a brilliant knock of 97 runs, which put the hosts on the backfoot.
Pant started his innings with an uncharacteristic sedate approach but then he changed gears after facing 35 balls. The pugnacious left-hander took the attack on Australia’s veteran spinner Nathan Lyon and pulled him out of the attack. Pant smashed three sixes against Lyon as he made brilliant use of his feet.
In fact, at one stage, Pant was giving a glimmer of hope to the visitors to chase down the imposing target of 407 runs. However, he was dismissed on 97 and missing out on a well-deserved century. There is no doubt this was one of Pant’s best knocks as he played with aplomb throughout the innings.
Ponting, who is the head coach of Delhi Capitals in the IPL has observed Pant from close corners.
Ponting said on the Unplayable podcast, “Very good proactive captaincy or coaching for sending Rishabh up. For India to stay in with a chance to win, they needed to do that. He had a little bit of luck with Paine putting him down a couple of times. It’s not all crash and bang with him, there is a lot of skill involved, and he is a proper test match batsman to the point today where a lot of the commentators were saying can he play as a batsman in the middle order and have Saha keep,” Ponting said.
“It was a masterstroke to put him up there, but he still got to play that innings, and he did it. He does it in his own way; he does it with a bit of swagger and confidence. Taking on Lyon like he did, even with fielders out says he backs himself and his skillset. I said at the start of the series that there is a chance for him to cement himself as India’s keeper-batsman for next 10-12 years and innings like today will go a long way in helping that.” Ponting added.
Pant scored a brilliant knock of 97 off just 118 balls and his innings played a key role in helping India save the Test match. The southpaw added 148 runs for the fifth wicket with Cheteshwar Pujara. After his fine knock, Pant can play as a specialist batsman and Wriddhiman Saha can keep the wickets in the deciding Test match.
The fourth Test match will take place at the Gabba, Brisbane from January 15.