If this isn’t remembered as well as The Oval 2018, Sydney 2021 and the Gabba 2021, it’s down to the other batters, not Rishabh Pant. Such was his batting on a third day wicket against some excellent Proteas bowling that it shifted the momentum of the game entirely.
When he walked in to bat, India had lost two wickets inside two overs of the day and Virat Kohli, still in a battle with himself about his cover driving tendencies, was at the other end. It didn’t take long for Pant to get into the thick of things.
As Kohli kept the South African attack out with defensive shots ball after ball and well-calculated leaves, Pant took on the bowling attack. Runs flowed from his bat and the South African attack, which were right on top in the first hour of the day, started searching for new ways to counter it and lost their rhythm.
By the end of lunch, Pant had already compiled an outstanding fifty, carefully playing out anything too wide or on a good length and cashing in on the rest. Kohli had moved to 28 in 127 balls, but Pant’s fifty had come in 57 balls.
Soon after lunch, Kohli perished to his weakness: the cover drive – edging one to Aiden Markram at second slip off Lungi Ngidi, but Pant was still in his zone.
This was evident when Marco Jansen, in a bid to rile up Pant, threw the ball back at him in anger after a defensive push back to the bowler. Calm as ever, Pant blocked out the wild throw aimed at the stumps and stood stone-faced as the South African’s aggression amounted to little.
Watch the video of Rishabh Pant playing ba defensive stroke to Jansen’s angry throw here
Jansen showing how he really feels about Pant today pic.twitter.com/GJ89sMyD9n
— deadchesterfield (@deadchesterfie1) January 13, 2022
The post-lunch session saw more domination from Pant and Kohli before the latter perished to a wild drive off a length and line he had previously avoided.
It’s worth noting that Pant was riled up by Rassie van der Dussen last Test and it teased him into playing an ugly shot against Kagiso Rabada. Jansen’s attempt was along similar lines with Pant threatening to take the game away from the hosts.