Double whammy from the Indian colt Rishabh Pant: The 6th day in February, 2016, proved to be ‘a day of reckoning for the 16-year old Delhiite, Rishabh Rajendra Pant.
Playing at Khan Saheb Osman Ali Stadium at Fatullah, Bangladesh, in the quarter-final encounter of the ongoing ICC U19 World Cup against Namibia, he was instrumental in powering India into the semi final stage.
The left-handed wicket-keeper-batsman, opening the innings alongwith his skipper Ishan Kishan (6) went on to score a 96-ball 111 runs, studded with 14 fours and 2 sixes and helped his team to pile up 349 runs for the loss of 6 wickets in 50 overs.
He was involved in a 103-run second-wicket partnership in 14.5 overs (the best partnership for any wicket in the match) alongwith Anmolpreet Singh (41).
Pant was also engaged in another very fruitful partnership in the process of his long innings. Alongwith Sarfaraz Khan, for the third wicket, he added 62 runs in 10.4 overs, before being dismissed by the leg-spinner, Francois Rautenbach, being caught at mid-wicket by Michael van Lingen.
His half-century came in 46 deliveries with 8 fours and a six, in the first delivery of the 15th over bowled by van Lingen. Pant reached the century landmark in 82 deliveries, aided by 12 fours and 2 sixes, by way of a leg glance that raced to the boundary, off the bowling of Niko Davin in the second delivery of the 26th over.
Sarfraz Khan (76) continued his onslaught and registered his third half-century in the tournament. Alongwith Armaan Jaffer, he added 98 runs in 15.2 overs for the third-wicket.
The 37-run in 3.5 overs, fifth-wicket partnership between Armaan Jaffer (64) and Mahipal Lomror (41), took the team’s tally to 349 runs.
Team India spinners, Mayank Dagar (10-3-25-3) and Amolpreet Singh (7-0-27-3) made ‘shortwork’ of the Namibians, and ably helped by the offie Washington Sundar (6-0-27-2), restricted them to a paltry total of 152 runs in 39 overs.
India moved into the semis by winning the game with a huge margin of 197 runs.
Rishabh was also involved in the dismissals of Eben van Wyk (1) and Jurgen Linde (25) by holding on to their catches.
For his overall show, Rishabh was awarded the Player of the Match.
The young Pant then struck a ‘goldmine’, when the IPL franchisee, Delhi Dareveils ‘purchased’ him in the Auction 2016 for a whooping sum of Rs 1.9 crores after they were locked in a ‘bidding battle’ with Mumbai-Indians.
Making his first-class debut for Delhi in the match against Bengal on 22nd October, 2015, Pant has featured in 2 matches (4 innings, unbeaten on one occasion), has scored 108 runs, averaging 36.0 with 57 as his best. He has a half-century to his credit.
He has also played in 3 List A games and has scored 42 runs at an average of 14.0 with 24 as his highest.
There is a lot to come from this youngster and it would be interesting to see how his career shapes up in times to come.