India completed yet another T20 whitewash against West Indies with an easy 7-wicket win in the final match of the series,played at Guyana. Rishabh Pant broke the Indian record for highest score in T20s by a wicket-keeper when he hit a match winning 65 for the team in the 3rd and final T20 against the Carribean team.Pant went past MS Dhoni who held the record when he had hit 56 vs England in Bengaluru in 2017. Pant, who is playing all three formats in West Indies in the absence of Dhoni, stitched a 106-run stand with Virat Kohli.
Criticized after two poor outings
After two poor outings in the first two T20 Internationals against the West Indies, questions were raised over Pant’s approach in the shortest format of the game. However, on Tuesday, Pant showed a lot of maturity as he took time to settle into his innings and steady India after the visitors lost wickets of their openers Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul in quick succession in chase of 147.
Pant hit 4 sixes and 4 boundaries as he finished with 65 runs in just 42 balls. The young wicketkeeper-batsman helped India seal the winning runs with a big six. Pacer Oshane Thomas and spinner Fabien Allen combined to remove Indian openers with 27 runs on the scoreboard in the fifth over. But Pant joined Kohli and the pair consolidated their team’s situation and then clinically worked themselves into a winning position before the captain fell with victory in sight.Pant sealed victory in style by hitting a six over the head of bowler, captain Carlos Brathwaite, at the start of the final over of the match as India finished on 150/3.
Here’s what Virat Kohli said about Pant:
“We are looking at him as the future. He has got a lot of skill and lot of talent. It is about giving him some space and not putting too much of pressure. He is come a long way since he started. Looking forward to some fun in the ODIs and Tests as well”, Virat Kohli said during post match presentation ceremony.
The young wicketkeeper-batsman has been backed by the Indian team management as it sees him as the future of Indian cricket. In the recently concluded ICC World Cup 2019, the 21-year-old was called as a replacement for Shikhar Dhawan after the Indian opener was ruled out of the quadrennial tournament owing to a fractured thumb that he suffered in the match against Australia.
Pant came in as a handy addition to the Indian squad, bringing in the left-handed option in the middle order. He could not contribute significantly during the 2019 World Cup and ended up not scoring even a single half century. While some criticized the youngster for throwing his wicket away, many backed him for the potential he showed under overcast conditions in England and Wales.
Interestingly, Pant’s previous highest score in T20s was 58 but in that match – also against West Indies at Chennai in 2018 – he played only as a batsman while the gloves belonged to Dhoni.
I do get frustrated when I don’t get runs: Pant
Speaking to Rohit Sharma for BCCI.TV, Pant said: “Felt really good about my innings. I was not able to score runs and was getting frustrated. But, I kept following my process and it fetched the desired results today.”He also talked about his 106-run partnership with captain Virat Kohli and said that they were thinking about building a partnership. “When I and Virat bhaiya were playing, we were thinking of stitching together a big partnership and take the game deep and then accelerate in the last seven-eight overs.”
“There are various times that I get frustrated when I don’t get the runs. Then I think what different things I could have done to perform. There are times when I take the right decision and even then I am not able to perform. It happens in cricket and is part and parcel of the game,” Pant said. “But what I try to do always is to focus on my basics, trust my instincts and just follow the process,” he added.
— BCCI (@BCCI) August 7, 2019
The wicket-keeper batsman, who has been termed as future of the Indian team by Virat Kohli himself, doesn’t get bogged down by the pressure. “Sometimes I feel the pressure, sometimes I enjoy. But at the end of the day, what matters for me is that the entire team, including senior members, have trust in me and that gives me a huge amount of confidence because then you know that even if you fail to perform in one or two innings, the team will back you. Thus, support from teammates is a huge confidence booster.”
Since his debut in IPL 3 years ago, Pant has stepped through the gears and in his third IPL season at the age of just 20, he scored a mammoth 684 runs in just 14 games, averaging more than 50 at a strike rate of 173. Kohli alluded to the possible reason at the end of the third T20 where Pant remained unbeaten on 62 to guide the side home for a clean sweep after two poor performances. “It’s about giving him a bit more space to ease himself into international cricket and not putting too much pressure because of the way he’s played in the IPL.”
India went past Pakistan to secure most consecutive wins against West Indies in T20s. Pakistan held the previous record having beaten the West Indies team in five consecutive T20Is. West Indies have now lost 57 T20Is, the highest by any team and are now tied with Bangladesh.
India will next play 3 ODIs against the West Indies from August 8 after which they will begin their ICC World Test Championships here only. Those who dont know, Pant will be part of ODI series as well as the Test team that plays against West Indies and it will be interesting to see how much he can contribute to the team.