Zaheer Khan has lauded Rishabh Pant’s ability to see off games to the very end when he gets going, stating the batsman is making it his trademark to play big-game knocks. He went on to praise his partnership with Hardik Pandya in the third ODI and how such displays impact other players.
Zaheer Khan has become the latest expert to join the Rishabh Pant hype train after the wicketkeeper-batsman put on a sensational match-winning display in the deciding third ODI against England at the Old Trafford Cricket Ground on Sunday. The youngster’s maiden ODI century came in the form of a 113-ball 125, staying unbeaten through the majority of the innings and hitting the winning runs.
This display was just another addition to Pant’s collection of crucial knocks to save the team from dire straits in important games, having done so previously in the tours of Australia and England. However, this was notably the 24-year-old’s first international white ball century, finally overcoming criticism of being unable to translate his red-ball form to limited-overs cricket.
“What he is basically building a reputation of is that ‘when I am in, I am going to finish the game for you’. So that is the kind of character that he has shown not just in white-ball cricket but also in Test matches regularly, and this was his maiden century in ODIs, so this innings is certainly going to give him that boost to go on to make it a habit to get these kinds of runs. And if that happens, then the middle order firepower is going to get even more strengthened,” Zaheer Khan explained on Cricbuzz.
Pant came into the match when India was reeling at 21/2 and was eventually down to 72/4. Joined by Hardik Pandya, the duo put up a mammoth partnership of 133 runs for the fifth wicket, with the latter contributing with a brilliant 71 from just 55 deliveries. Pant took on the reigns once his partner-in-crime departed, scoring his last 60 runs off just 31 balls to lead India to a famous five-wicket victory. Both the batsmen were given their due praise by the ex-Indian pacer for their maturity.
“That partnership has been a match-winning partnership. You see, on the whole, the game has been superb. It was an even contest between the bat and ball. The way England started, there was a lot of pressure. What matters is the character shown by them (Pant and Pandya). To absorb pressure and to build a partnership and one of them going on to finish the game, that’s the example you would like to give to anyone who is in the lineup,” Khan noted.