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Rishabh Pant 2.0

Updated on: 18 June,2024 07:37 AM IST  |  Florida
R Kaushik |

From being unable to even brush his teeth after a serious car accident in December 2022 to presently wielding his willow like a toothpick, India ’keeper-batter’s story is a remarkable tale of resilience and resolve

Rishabh Pant 2.0

Rishabh Pant during his gritty 18 against USA in New York recently. Pic/Getty Images

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Rishabh Pant’s return from a horrific, almost life-threatening road accident a year-and-a-half back is one of the great comebacks in sporting history. Given a fresh lease of life—his own words—the ebullient wicketkeeper-batter defied medical experts by making a total recovery much quicker than expected, determined to make the most of his good fortune by immersing himself totally in the rehabilitation process.


There was a time in the weeks after the accident on 30 December 2022 when Pant couldn’t even brush his teeth. From there to wielding his willow like a toothpick has been a remarkable tale of resilience and resolve.


No cricket for 14 months 


Having missed 14 months of cricket—almost immaterial, given how much more was at stake—Pant’s return to action during IPL 2024 was keenly followed by millions, not least the principal decision-makers in Indian cricket. The T20 World Cup was a little more than two months away and therefore it was inevitable that Rohit Sharma, head coach Rahul Dravid and selection panel head Ajit Agarkar would be more invested than most others, seeking clues on whether Pant was ready for an international comeback too.

Also Read: T20 World Cup 2024: "We haven't rectified our mistakes": Hasaranga

What they saw delighted them no end. Pant 2.0 was as brutal and cheekily unorthodox in front of the stumps as before, while behind the sticks, lighter than previously, he moved beautifully both sideways and up and down. Within a few matches, he had set himself up as a certainty for the American adventure. Now, he is occupant of the No. 3 position, held previously by such virtuosos as Virat Kohli and Suryakumar Yadav, the No. 1 T20I batter in the world.

Skipper Rohit’s full support

“I had to look at Rishabh just a few games in the IPL to make up my mind where he’s going to bat in the World Cup. And when I saw him during the first half of the tournament, I was really happy and clear that this is where [No. 3] he’s going to bat,” Rohit observed. 

“With a player like him, the kind of ability he has, it’s always tough to find the right number, but I thought for us particularly, when we have three right-handers in the top four, it’s nice to have him in the middle. When we move ahead in the tournament, spin is going to play a big part, where his counterattacking can come into picture in a big way.”

Of all the batters from all the teams that played on the impossibly difficult drop-in pitches in New York, Pant looked the most comfortable. Because he targets unusual areas, he found run-making not as difficult as most others, except in the match against USA where the total slowness and two-paced nature of the pitch made a chase of even 111 arduous. Having warmed up with 53 against Bangladesh, he backed it up with 36*, 42 and 18, setting himself up as his team’s most consistent batter.

Now for the Super Eight stage, and more Pant magic on what are bound to be better batting strips. 

Rishabh Pant’s performance so far

53
v Bangladesh

36
not out v Ireland

42
v Pakistan 

18
v USA

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