Having come out to bat at 64/3, wicketkeeper-batter Rishabh Pant produced a masterclass to rescue India from a difficult spot and it helped the visitors finish Day 1 of the rescheduled fifth Test against England on 338/7. At one stage, India were 98/5 and then, Pant combined with Ravindra Jadeja to put on 222 runs for the sixth wicket. Pant went on to play a 146-run knock off just 111 balls with the help of 20 fours and 4 sixes.
Pant once again took a special liking to spinner Jack Leach and his innings even included a reverse scoop off the bowling of James Anderson. The left-hander was eventually dismissed by Joe Root, but Jadeja remained unbeaten on 83.
“I like the opposition (England) but I do not think about it much. I just look to give my 100 per cent in every match. My focus is on the cricket I play. From childhood, my coach Tarak sir told me that you can hit the ball, but work on your defence as well. I keep working on my defence, in Test cricket, defence is important. Every ball you cannot hit, so i keep focusing and if i think I need to defend, I defend and if I think I can hit the ball, I hit the ball. Putting the bad ball away is also important, if the bowler is bowling well, then giving him respect is also a good sign. I try to play to the merit of the ball,” said Pant during a press conference after the close of play on Day 1.
“Especially in conditions like England, where you know the bowler is bowling well, then it becomes important to disturb his line and length. I keep trying that I do not play in the same manner so that the bowler gets mentally disturbed. As a player, I look to give my 100 percent, I try to play my percentage, if I feel if it’s there for me to try a different shot or hit the ball, I tend to back it. I have focused on that and it’s helping me, I guess,” he added.
When asked what was his discussion with Jadeja, Pant said: “The discussion with Jadeja was to focus on the partnership. If you think about it individually, then the pressure can arise. So, we thought from the team’s point of view. I think I was just focusing on the ball, yes, the pressure was there. But if you focus on the pressure, you might not get the result. I try to focus on my process and that might give me results most of the time.”
“I don’t focus on the bowler; I focus on what he is bowling. It is not pre-planned that I have to after this bowler, If I feel I can hit the ball, I do that. I think if you lose too many wickets, you need to give yourself time. I was trying to build a partnership with Jaddu Bhai and we were thinking let’s not lose a wicket till the tea break,” he added.
When asked what sort of conversation he had with coach Rahul Dravid before the game, Pant said: “As a player, every hundred you can make in international cricket is a big achievement and you feel happy about it. It is upto you guys to decide which one was better, I just want to give my best. We were practicing well as a team so there was enough time to get ourselves in the mindset of playing a Test. Rahul bhai told me to play according to the ball and focus at one ball at a time, just try to play the situation and not think about what’s going to happen.”
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