Former Indian batting great Dilip Vengsarkar applauded Rishabh Pant's 97, suggesting that he brought India close to the target besides predicting that India will script history at the Gabba. He also praised Ajinkya Rahane for his exemplary leadership as he feels youngsters are doing well under him.
2020 was a disastrous year for Rishabh Pant as an Indian cricketer. He first lost his wicket-keeping position to KL Rahul in the limited-overs XI and then even his place in squad for Australia's white-ball series. He had a terrible IPL, there were questions on his fitness and he wasn't even picked in the Adelaide Test. But he returned for Boxing Day Test but dropping sitters didn't go down well with most of the people, something which he replicated in Sydney too, which drew a lot of flak on his position in the side. And just when as he looked in great touch in the first innings at SCG, he got a nasty blow on his elbow.
But the youngster defied all odds and punched above his weight on day five of the SCG Test batting at 5 as he not only made 97 runs but the manner in which he played the flamboyant innings left Australia stunned and changed the momentum of the game. At once, India dreamed chasing down the 400-plus total with the epic Pujara-Pant stand before the latter got out. Former Indian batsman Dilip Vengsarkar termed Pant's knock 'extraordinary' besides applauding Hanuma Vihari and R Ashwin for their blockathon that ensured India didn't lose the game.
"It was Rishabh's innings that brought us close in the match. Had he been there for some more time, we would have definitely won. But this draw is no less than a win. It was an extraordinary innings by Pant. Ashwin played really well and the way he took the India innings forward along with Hanuma was just amazing. Pujara too played well. Everyone played really well. It was a team performance. It was an outstanding team effort," Vengsarkar told TOI.
"Both played extremely wonderfully. Hanuma played bravely. He was injured and couldn't run. He kept his calm and faced the solid Australian attack. Ashwin is a world-class all-rounder. He is one of the best bowlers in the world and he is a handy batsman too. Both Vihari and Ashwin are strong characters."
The former Indian chief selector who had picked Virat Kohli for the first time in internationals, also suggested that India's youngsters have blossomed under Ajinkya Rahane's captaincy as he has given them ample of freedom and backing.
"The team has really blossomed under the leadership of Ajinkya Rahane. India were bundled out for 36 and lost the match (in the first Test in Adelaide) but the way Rahane led the team after the Adelaide defeat is amazing. Ajinkya showed tremendous character.
"Players are more at ease under Rahane. He has given the freedom to his players. Freedom is the top most thing that Rahane has injected into the team. Not just Ashwin and Jadeja, the youngsters Siraj, Saini, and Gill also impressed in the series. Ajinkya has done a fantastic job in Virat's absence," Vengsarkar said.
Now, the action moves to Brisbane, where India have the difficult ask of taking on Australia at Gabba, their fortress. However, Vengsarkar predicted India's win in the fourth and final Test.
"Since India have never won in Brisbane, I am sure they will win this time. India have the opportunity to win in Brisbane. Indian players have tremendous potential. The way they have played in the last two matches (Melbourne and Sydney) is exemplary. If they play to their potential, they can win in Brisbane and the series too," Vengsarkar signed off.
Currently, the four-match Test series is levelled at 1-1 with the final Test kick-starting on Friday in Brisbane.