The Wanderers Tests has been so far a nail-biting encounter with both sides fighting it out in every session. Day 3 proved to be another exciting day of Test cricket. South Africa ended the day nudging ahead of India. The morning session saw two modern-day giants of Indian Cricket struggling with form combating against the fierce Proteas pace battery, keeping their calm in the tough track of Johannesburg.
Pujara and Rahane did play for their lives, and with their resilient approach and decisive footwork, the duo stitched a crucial 100 run partnership seizing control over South Africa. However just like the past 2 days of play, when the lunch was around the corner, came a fiery Kagiso Rabada with a spectacular spell dismissing both the well-set batters.
India were at 163-4 when Rishabh Pant came to the crease. Hopes were pinned on to the wicketkeeper batter to build another steady alliance with Vihari and help India post a match-winning total to chase. With Van der Dussen at a silly point, Pant was reminded of the former’s dismissal in 1st innings, a caught behind, and apparently not a clean catch, and a wrong decision by the on-field umpires.
“A sense of responsibilty” is crucial
With the pressure of scoring runs plus the chatter in the close corners, Pant looked perturbed. In order to deliver a statement, the southpaw went down the track on his very third delivery trying to get a boundary. The attack misfired as he perished in the gloves of Verreynne leaving his fans shocked.
Losing his calm in such a critical juncture of the game, paved the way for South Africa back in it as the Indian lower order looked to fall like a pack of cards. It was largely because of Lord Shardul Thakur’s heroics at the end and a gritty knock from Vihari that helped India put up a fighting target of 240.
Pant’s rash shot received harsh criticism from all. While Coach Rahul Dravid was looked stone-faced, veteran Sunil Gavaskar did not mince his words on-air,
“You have got two new batsmen at the crease and then you saw that shot from Rishabh Pant. Forgettable, no excuses for that shot, no excuses. None of that nonsense about that being his natural game. There has to be some sense of responsibility shown. Because there are others taking the blows. There is guys like Rahane and Pujara who have taken it on their body. So you also fight it out,”.
Former SA speedster Morne Morkel framed the episode perfectly in brief,
“The kitchen was hot and Pant couldn’t handle it”.
Pant has been India’s first-choice wicket-keeper ahead of Saha in foreign tours owing to his batting prowess. However, if he fails to deliver when the side needs him the most, it will always prove to be too costly. No doubt, it can not be denied that Pant has been the X-factor for India across all formats, and in his little career, he has given his fans several moments to cherish.
It was Pant who helped India cross the line against the Aussies in 2021, a series triumph at Gabba, recorded in history books in golden letters. But Dravid needs to work with him and his shot selection.
Dravid needs to work with Pant on his composure
Since India follows the 5 bowlers policy it becomes important for the batters to contribute as much they can. Pant needs to adjust his game in accordance with the situation. He is immensely talented and has the potential to be a prolific match-winner in Tests. Pant has often failed against pacers when tries to go down the track.
He loses his shape while he attempts it and mostly finds the edge of his blade. Pant who idolizes the former Indian captain MS Dhoni needs to learn from the latter how to have control on his go-to shots and not lose the cool even when under insurmountable pressure.
In a match that is going down the wire, Pant’s innings might turn out to be the difference between the teams. India is in its quest to capture the frontiers of South Africa for the first time in the history of cricket. And such mistakes may lead it to be a distant dream.
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