India Complete A Nervy Victory Courtesy A Spectacular Bumrah And An Intelligent Pandya.

Rishabh Pant faces up a sharp Rubel hussain and gets beaten by pace the very first ball. Any other batsman would have been watching the next ball more intently and been absolutely still at the crease so that he plays it safe. Pant is not any other batsman. He simply goes for a walk across the stumps and disdainfully flicks the ball which is on off stump to deep midwicket. He gets only a single. But it is more a statement than a single.

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The sharp sliders of Mossadek hossain is up next. Pant tries to be the responsible number four batsman as he plays out a couple of balls carefully. Then, he gets rapped on the pads and there is a vociferous appeal for LBW. Pant survives. One can almost sense that something is about to happen. You can almost hear the inner voice of Pant going “F**k this I am teeing off!” All it takes is one more ball. Pant is down the track depositing the ball 25 rows back of the sight screen.

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India lose two wickets in three balls play out a maiden over. Bangladesh’s legs are firmly on the brakes. Shafiuddin steams in to bowl the next over to Pant, hoping he can maintain the pressure and possibly snaffle his wicket. Pant defends the first ball.

The next three balls can be described as thus.

“Whack!”

“Smash!”

“Thump!”

Bangladesh are back to the strategy of minimising destruction.

*

Pant has already swept shakib gloriously for a four in his previous spell. He attempts a similar shot in the next shakib over. This time though, he plays it in the air and is caught at square leg. Pant is disappointed. As he walks back, he practises the same shot again. This time he mimicks playing it along the ground. The shots will not stop, he seems to say.

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India complete a nervy victory courtesy a spectacular bumrah and an intelligent pandya. While their middle order crisis is far from over, they will look back at the phase of their batting innings when Pant played with some satisfaction. For their middle order is in dire need of someone like Pant.

Delhi might have taken daredevilry out of their name.

Rishabh Pant still seems to have plenty of it in his game.

-Jagannath Janakiraman

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