Flamboyant India wicketkeeper-batter Rishabh Pant revealed the secret to his stunning 146 on the opening day of the fifth Test match against England was to disturb the opposition bowlers mentally. Pant’s knock was the cornerstone of India’s recovery after India were 98/5 at one stage.
Pant played a knock for the ages to turn the tables on England and take India to an imposing 338 for 7 at stumps on Friday. His magnificent 111-ball innings had 19 boundaries and four sixes and shared a record 222-run stand with Ravindra Jadeja after India lost half of their side inside 28 overs.
“In English conditions if a bowler pitches it up, it's important to disturb his rhythm, that's what I feel,” the 24-year-old Pant said during the media interaction after the end of day one's play. India’s 338 runs was also the most by them on the first day of a Test in England.
Be it England pace spearhead James Anderson, who rocked India early on with his 3/52, or skipper Ben Stokes who offered a barrage of short-pitched stuff, Pant looked ridiculously at ease during his blitzkrieg.
“I don’t try to play unidimensional, rather I try out various shots -- sometimes I step out, or play on the backfoot. I keep on using the crease well. It's about disturbing the bowler mentally and things happen. It's not pre-planned. I just focus on what the bowler is trying to do.”
The Pant-Jadeja duo eventually took the team past the 300-run mark with the sixth wicket stand which was the highest for an Indian team in England. “When you lose too many wickets early on, you have to give yourself more time.
“I just tried to stage partnership with Jaddu Bhai and not lose a wicket before tea and it worked for us. (Coach) Rahul (Dravid) Bhai told me that I should play one ball at a time and not focus too much on other things.
“The discussion was about creating small, small partnerships, maybe in 25-30s, that's how you convert it into a big one. Yes there was pressure early on, but I just focused in the process. It's about what I want to do as a player and not what the opposition is thinking,” he said.
Up 2-1 in the series, India had a troubled build-up as their skipper Rohit Sharma had to pull out after being tested for COVID-19. England, on the other hand, were coming on the back of a 3-0 whitewash on reigning world Test champions New Zealand.
But Pant said his side had enough time to prepare for the rescheduled match. “We practised well as a team, we also had a practice match. We had enough time to get into the mindset of playing the Test,” he concluded.