Teams Played For
Delhi, India U19, Delhi Capitals, India, India A, North Zone, India Blue, India Red, Indian Board Presidents XI
The capability to hit sixes from the word go without taking time to settle has been Rishab Pant’s success mantra and USP in the game of cricket. Pant broke into the IPL when the Delhi Daredevils, now Delhi Capitals (DC), drafted him into the team post a successful 2016 ICC U19 World Cup stint, where Pant had made a name for himself on the basis of his ultra-aggressive style of stroke play.
The Roorkee-born was the one who grabbed all the eyeballs of the IPL 2016 auction, where he was bought for INR 1.9 crore, a whopping amount of money, for a 19-year-old.
The Delhi cricketer first attempt to own the stage of the IPL went unsuccessful in 2016 and he managed to add only 198 runs from 10 innings in IPL 2016 but he was not to miss out for two seasons in a row and turned it around in the next edition, amassing 366 runs from 14 matches.
Meanwhile, backed by his performances in domestic as well as IPL cricket, national selectors decided to give Pant a taste of international cricket. Given that, talismanic wicketkeeper-batsman, MS Dhoni, was at the fag-end of his career. He made his debut during the 2017 T20I series against England at home.
With the spark shone during his limited IPL career, the Delhi franchise decided to retain him, handing him an INR 8 crore contract.
The stocky-built shotmaker rewarded the faith entrusted towards him with his breakthrough season, where he dominated bowlers from the word go. He smashed 684 runs from 14 matches at an average of 52.6, which would make even his fellow Delhi teammate Virat Kohli proud.
In the subsequent IPL season in 2019, the flamboyant southpaw piled up 488 runs with an outstanding strike rate of 162.66 and backed up one great season after another for his franchise.
Eventually, the Indian management, primarily Head Coach Ravi Shastri and captain Kohli, backed his talent and Pant was soon introduced in the longer format of the game.
Talking about his on-field charisma, Pant opened his Test account in style with a six, that too while facing Adil Rashid in his first inning at the Trent Bridge on August 18th, 2018. Pant hit the leg spinner for a six in what was just the second ball of his Test career and became the first Indian to get off the mark in Test cricket with a six.
In India’s last test of the England tour in 2018, Pant scored his maiden Test century on the last day of the match, while stitching a mammoth face-saving partnership with KL Rahul. A few months later, the southpaw scored his second Test century against Australia at Sydney. By doing so, the charismatic lad became the only Indian wicketkeeper to score a century in England and Australia. And he was rightly awarded the 2018 Emerging Player of the Year award at the ICC Awards.
The Indian number four conundrum, which might have been a reason for India's loss in the 2019 WC Final, finally led to Rishabh Pant taking up the debatable spot in the high-pressure coveted tournament.
His tendencies to give his wicket away while showboating his hitting abilities and the persistent support from the management led to Pant facing a lot of criticism and flak.
During the games against West Indies, later in 2019, while legendary wicketkeeper-batsman MS Dhoni was on a sabbatical, Pant grassed few dismissals with the gloves. To which, crowds chanted the name of Dhoni, which was not appreciated by skipper Virat Kohli.
In one of Rohit Sharma went public with his appeal to spare Pant facing the criticism, in an unfair comparison with a legend of the game.
Much like all, the year 2020 proved to be rather forgetful for the power-packed left-hander. His form stooped real low and his 2020 IPL strike rate raised questions from all around the globe, along with his fitness issues. By his high standards, Pant managed only 343 runs in the 2020 edition of the IPL striking at a mere 113. In the 2020 ODI series against Australia, Pant copped a blow to his helmet and suffered a concussion, while Rahul took over the gloves! However, Kohli and co. backed Rahul for his glovework in ODI, while preferred Wriddhiman Saha in home Tests.
Interestingly, Pant could not break into the Indian side out in any of the formats and missed the away white-ball series against New Zealand in the 2019-20 season. Later in the year, he couldn't start in ODI and the T20I series Down Under. He was benched for the first of a 4-match series in Australia. However, he returned to the playing XI in the 2nd Test after captain Virat Kohli headed home on paternity leave. Pant came up with some memorable performances, including game-changing knocks in the Sydney Test draw and the historic win in Brisbane. Pant won back his place in the XI in home conditions during the 4-Test series against England. He hit a counter-attacking match-winning hundred in the 4th and final Test against England which sealed India's place in the World Test Championship final.
At the start of the 2021 edition of the IPL, Shreyas Iyer was diagnosed with a severe shoulder injury and had to undergo surgery at the earliest. The Delhi Capitals think-tank made Pant the skipper of the franchise and it paid off well as Delhi ran riots under him, winning 6 out of 8 matches which put them at the top of the table.
Enriched with international exposure and the experience of being out there in crunch situations with people best in the business when playing for the Indian international side, Pant would love to put all those to good effect for his home team in the forthcoming key tournaments to help them clinch the title after more than a decade of disappointment and series of frustrating losses. Pant is certainly on his way to becoming an able successor of Dhoni.
Moreover, Pant's story is one of the greatest tales of redemption, which epitomizes his grit and determination, coming from a humble background in Uttarakhand.
(As of June 2021)