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THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT PANT..the man who came back

Everyone has their fantasy! And mine was that an Indian team, should visit Australia and score wins against all odds. Not in South Africa, not in England, not in Pakistan. But to score a win on the truest of wickets, where nothing except genuine cricket talent, ever works. This fantasy became real, in 2020-21. In the most unthinkable manner possible. A plot which even the craziest of sports writers would not have cranked up. When the first test turned out a horror result for India where they were bowled out for 36 & proceeded to lose Kohli, Bumrah, Shami after the 1st test for various reasons. The script for next two tests with India were written by Rahane, the stand-in captain with some standout performances by Vihari, Ashwin & Pant. And the unthinkable happened with India drawing level and the series poised evenly before going to the Gabba.

The last test was to be held at the notoriously called 'Gabbatoir' , an venue where ruthless Australian teams managed to win 33, draw 13, tied 1 & lost only 9 out of the 55 test matches played there. In fact in the previous 32 years and the last 29 test matches, Australia were undefeated here.

But the new found confidence of the Indians was palpable even though the true wickets gave comfort to Smith & Labuschagne. India's reply was uneven with only an unique partnership from Thakur & Sundar saving the day. But the relentless bowling effort from Siraj and Thakur held out some hope for India. The last innings was plain epic with Gill along with Pujara, starred in a 114 run stand for the 2nd wicket. From this point after a few hiccups, Rishabh Pant took over and steered India to a magnificent & magical win with 89 not out with the Australian team plainly wilting against the sheer sparkling effort from India.

From that epic win to that ghastly accident on December 30th 2022, Rishabh Pant has been a talisman conjuring impossible performances for India. Even that accident has been the first, when a sportsman's entire recovery happened in India, with Dr Dinshaw Pardiwala anchoring the superb efforts.

So, when Rishabh Pant stepped out as a captain of Delhi Capitals on March 23rd 2024, it has been a return almost from the dead. As we held our breadth, here was Rishabh Pant, looking almost normal behind the stumps, a bit rusty though, in front of it. But like the man, his story has been an epic journey to behold!!

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