Back on track: After starting slow, Pant broke the shackles and took apart the CSK bowlers.

Back on track: After starting slow, Pant broke the shackles and took apart the CSK bowlers.
| Photo Credit: K.R. DEEPAK

One of the biggest talking points before the start of the tournament was how Rishabh Pant would fare this year. For someone who had to re-learn how to walk after suffering life-threatening injuries 14 months back, the fact that Pant recovered enough even to get back on to the cricketing field was astounding.

However, there were doubts about whether he could return to his old self. On Sunday, the 26-year-old dispelled those fears for good with a match-winning knock (51, 32b, 4×4, 3×6) for Delhi Capitals against Chennai Super Kings.

In the first two outings of the IPL, Pant was easing his way back into things. It was understandable, considering he jumped straight into his first competitive match against world-class bowlers.

Against CSK, Pant again started slowly going at run-a-ball for his first 23 runs. The defining moment, though, came in the 18th when he deposited Mustafizur Rahman over square leg for a six with his trademark one-handed pick-up shot in which the bottom hand comes off the bat.

“I always had the self-belief that whatever happens in life, I need to be back on the ground. That was the thought process, and I never thought about anything else”Pant

In the next over, Pant showed he was well on track to rediscover his mojo. On a day when Matheesha Pathirana was nailing his yorkers at a ferocious pace — he had knocked over Mitchell Marsh and Tristan Stubbs with 150kph thunderbolts — Pant hit the Sri Lankan down the ground with panache.

“I took my time initially because I haven’t played much cricket in the last one-and-a-half to two years. I thought I had to give myself enough time. At the same time, I kept believing that I could change the match at the end”Pant

From 23 off 23, Pant needed just eight balls to get his next 28 runs. In the context of the game, his knock proved decisive for the Capitals. But the fact that Pant got closer to his best in just his third outing meant Indian cricket was the bigger winner on the day.


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