In a display of the finest power-hitting, Andre Russell and Rishabh Pant stole the show with their blitzkrieg against Sunrisers Hyderabad and Mumbai Indians respectively on the second day of the Indian Premier League 2019. While Russell helped Kolkata Knight Riders seal a come-from-behind win, Pant single-handedly batted Mumbai out of the contest at the Wankhede Stadium.
When Pant walked out to bat, Delhi Capitals were 112 for 3 after 13 overs. Mumbai had controlled the game really well until that stage and then edged ahead with the wicket of Shikhar Dhawan as the visitors slipped to 131 for 4 in 15.1 overs. From there on, things slipped out of their hand in a jiffy. Pant got going and his single-handed shots that landed past the boundaries left the knockout punch. Pant successfully attacked Jasprit Bumrah as the pacer leaked 40 runs from his four overs. Ben Cutting, Krunal Pandya and Hardik Pandya too struggled to contain the left-hander as they were taken for more than 10 runs per over.
Mumbai were eventually shot down for just 176 in a chase of 213, and suffered yet another defeat in their opening IPL encounter. “When I came in, I had to up the ante and so took my chances. It came off tonight,” Pant said after the game on Sunday (March 24). “Especially in T20s, you have to do something different. Sometimes when bowlers cramp you for room, you got to make your own room.
“Always a great feeling when you score runs and the team wins. I always bat according to the situation all the time.”
Colin Ingram too rallied behind the youngster and said the knock was exhilarating to watch. “Last year I saw him play like this from my couch and he seemed in similar form. It’s a great sign for us if he’s in good form because he’s a match-winner on his day. Today we saw that in full flow. He’s a hell of a talent, just the way he practices – it’s awesome to watch,” he said.
Yuvraj Singh, who scored a half-century on his Mumbai debut, felt the next step is to ensure the attacking left-hander is groomed well for the future. “I can’t say about selection but Rishabh was outstanding today. He had an outstanding season last year. He is playing well in Test matches as well. To score (two centuries) overseas at such an age shows his character. It is important we groom him well and hope he is the next big thing for us,” he stressed.
‘I’ll hang my boots when the time comes’
Yuvraj, who scored his first half-century in IPL since 2017, said regular wickets hurt their chase. “Losing Rohit (Sharma) early (was one of the reasons). (Quinton) de kock was doing well but we lost his wicket. (Kieron) Pollard came and quickly lost his wicket. We really couldn’t get partnerships going. Had we got 20-30 (run) partnerships, we could have got more close to the game. The wicket was more of 180-190 run wicket, 213 was quite a match-winning score and Delhi has got really good bowling,” he pointed out.
“I took my time there. The wickets were falling and I thought if I take chance early, we (don’t) want to end getting close to the game, so I just took my time. I am happy with the way I was hitting the ball.”
The all-rounder also revealed he’s not thinking of retirement just yet despite his up-and-down form. “When the time comes, I will be the first one to hang up my boots. I spoke to Sachin (Tendulkar) as well and he has gone through such a time at 38-39. Talking to him makes things easier for me. In the last two years, I have been up and down. I started playing cricket because I enjoyed the game and then I was not playing for Indian. It was U-14, U-16, so till the time I enjoy, I will play.”