Australia series turning point of my life: Pant

PTI, Apr 5, 2022, 6:25 PM IST

Mumbai: Rishabh Pant says the tour of Australia in 2020-21 is the ”turning point of my life” as he helped India save one game and win another despite taking painkiller injection after struggling to hold the bat.

The 24-year-old Pant played two of his greatest knocks in the last two Tests in Sydney and Brisbane as an injury-ravaged Indian team recorded an incredible come-from-behind Test series triumph.

However, all was not well with Pant prior to that as the swashbuckling keeper-batter was dropped from India’s limited-overs set-up before the 2019 ODI World Cup. Speaking to Indian women’s team cricketer Jemimah Rodrigues on Dream11’s YouTube channel, Pant recalled how he stopped talking to everyone after being dropped from the squad.

”I was not talking to anyone, not even family or friends. I needed my own space. I just wanted to give my 200 percent each and every day.” Describing that as the lowest point of his life, Pant said: ”I was thinking ‘what’s going to happen now’. I was like 22-23. That was one of the lowest points of my life — mentally. I was thinking about ‘what now’.

”Suddenly everything had stopped — you’re dropped from two formats. The noise was becoming bigger and bigger. Everyone kept telling me, ‘it’s not possible’. But at the same time, I was just sitting there alone, thinking what I can do as an individual.” The player, who later managed to turn things around, added on his low phase, ”The only thought going through my mind was, you keep putting your hard work each and every day no matter what happens. you give your 200 per cent. we’ll take the result, whatever happens.

”I was just telling myself, there’s no choice but to do it. I had to make India win.” Pant was the leading run-scorer in India’s 2-1 win over Australia, scoring 274 runs in five innings at an average of 68.50.

This was after an injury to Wriddhiman Saha in the nightmarish pink-ball Adelaide Test paved the way for Pant’s return to the playing XI.

Pant, who sat out the first practice match due to a stiff neck, suffered an unbearable bruised elbow while batting on day three of the third Test in Sydney, where his 97 saved the game for India.

”I took the painkiller injection during the game, went to the nets and I was trying to hold the bat but it was painful.

”I was perplexed and also afraid after getting hit. After this there’s Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood and they would be bowling a lot faster,” he recalled.

But he said things settled down after he started taking on the Australian bowlers while chasing 400 on the last day.

”Rahane got out before lunch and I got tense. I went inside, I couldn’t get my way, pressure was building, the Aussies were sledging and because they were up in the game and they wanted to win.

”Then it was my threshold, mid-on was up and he bowled me there and I hit him over mid-on for a boundary. Next ball he bowled there, after a few overs, and I hit him for a six.

”Next over the long on was back and I was playing my normal game and I was getting runs.

”Suddenly the momentum of the match changed and we were in a position to win the match. And slowly, my pain started lessening because I was concentrating entirely on every ball and so the focus on the pain went away,” he said about his knock.

”I was feeling bad — not for missing my hundred but for not being able to win the match for India from there. Then Ashwin and Vihari took blows all over the body and saved the match. It was one of the turning points of the series for us and for myself also. Gabba happened next,” Pant signed off.

After beginning the season with a victory over Mumbai Indians, the Pant-led Delhi Capitals will take on Lucknow Super Giants in Mumbai on Thursday.

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