Young wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant's stature as one of the best in the business has been growing since he hit a hundred against England at The Oval last year. On Day 2 of the ongoing Sydney Test, the 21-year-old became the first ever Indian wicketkeeper to hit a hundred Down Under.
Impressed with Pant's performace, former Australia captain Ricky Ponting compared the youngster with the legendary Adam Gilchrist. Pant scored a blistering 159 in the fourth Test as India declared their first innings at 662/7.
"He is a real talent and an incredibly good ball striker. He has got a really good game sense as well. I have been lucky enough to coach him at Delhi (Capitals)," said Ponting, who had worked with the Indian during his stint with Delhi franchise at the Indian Premier League.
"He has got to do a bit of work on his keeping and he will also become a better batsman.
"We talk about him in the commentary box and he is sort of like another Adam Gilchrist," Ponting told cricket.com.au.
Gilchrist, the legendary Australian wicket-keeper batsman, has played 96 Tests, scoring 5570 runs at an average of 47.6. He also represented his country in 287 ODIs, amassing 9619 runs at 35.89.
On Friday, Pant became the only Indian wicketkeeper to score a century on Australia soil when he smashed an unbeaten 159 and shared a 204-run stand with Ravindra Jadeja, as the visitors declared at 622 runs for seven.
The 21-year-old also surpassed Mahendra Singh Dhoni's 13-year-old record of highest individual Test score by an Indian wicketkeeper. The former India skipper had scored 148 runs against Pakistan in 2006.
Ponting believes Pant will score more Test centuries than his predecessor Dhoni.
"We talk about MS Dhoni all the time and his impact on Indian cricket. He played a lot of Tests for India but made only six Test hundreds. This kid (Rishabh Pant) will make a lot more Test hundreds than that," Ponting said.
"He has already scored his second Test ton and a couple of 90s to go with it. Look he is someone who could play a lot of Test cricket for India across formats. Pant is only 21 and is already into his ninth Test."
Gilchrist also praised Pant for pacing his innings well.
"He played a beautiful innings today (Friday)," Gilchrist told foxsports.com.au.
"We probably all expected him to bat aggressively from ball one but he showed he can build an inning and then by the end of it allowed himself to play with all the freedom that we know he's got.
"It was entertaining. He's a cricketer that I would happily pay to watch."
Gilchrist believes Pant has the talent to become a successful Test cricketer.
"He's a cricketer that is at the start of his journey so he'll learn these particular parts of the game and he'll learn that there's always more time than what you think, but he's got a great foundation to be a successful Test cricketer," he said.
Though he shone with the bat, Pant's keeping wasn't always up to the mark as he dropped Usman Khawaja off Mohammed Shami late on the second day.
However, Gilchrist said Pant will become a reliable keeper as he learns from his mistakes.
"Although he's missed a few opportunities with the gloves, he's certainly held onto more than he's spilt. If he's prepared to work on his game, I'm sure he'll develop and become a really reliable keeper," Gilchrist said.
(With PTI inputs)
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