India face England in the all-important rescheduled fifth Test in Birmingham from July 1. The contest will decide the outcome of the series that got stalled last year due to a COVID-19 outbreak in the Indian camp. The Indian cricket team leads the series 2-1 and even a draw would be enough for it to register only its fourth Test series triumph in England. Before this, India won three Test series in the country in 1971, 1986 and 2007. This time the onus will be on the Rohit Sharma-led side to register yet another historic series win.
Before the India-England Test, in an exclusive interview to NDTV, former Indian cricket team player Sanjay Manjrekar opined on the player who can be the ‘X-factor’ for India against England.
“Rishabh Pant! I know Rohit Sharma is there at the top, there’s Virat Kohli, and other great batters. Pujara’s defiance is there, there’s some good bowling in Shami and Bumrah. They will be game changes with the ball. But in his very short career test career Rishabh Pant has notched up three great Test innings and in different conditions, different oppositions. So you’re like Ben Stokes, if you’ve got to look at one player from India, you almost won India game South Africa as well, with that 100 that he got, Pant is the man. If England’s got Ben Stokes then India’s got Rishabh Pant,” Manjrekar said.
The veteran of 37 Tests and 74 ODIs is confident that Pant can make a difference in red-ball cricket despite in lean patch in the T20 format.
“Yes, because the formats are different. And so far, we’ve seen that Rishabh Pant has been a formidable Test player. While he’s been putting together all the exceptional performances at the Test level, his white ball batting has not been quite up there. So there’s a disconnection almost between his performance in white ball cricket versus red ball cricket,” Manjrekar said.
“This is a guy makes an impact playing Test cricket, because he goes about things very differently. He’s not pushed to start hitting straightaway. So there’ll be occasions where he will be playing or 20 dot balls, and then hit three sixes depending on the condition, the bowler at the opposite end. So I think the Test format allows Rishabh Pant to be a little more imaginative, allows him to be not pushed, he can take his time and decide when he wants to hit and which the moment to do it. So for the moment, it seems like the Test format provides the kind of setting that he seems to enjoy. Whatever happens in the white ball format, I don’t see that have any bearing at all on his performances at the Test level. We’ve seen that in the last two three years.”
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