India vs England: 3rd Test match, Trent Bridge
Trent Bridge is not just a ground for England. It’s a fortress of sorts.
It could be said, Trent Bridge is as important to England where both mega-impact and success are concerned as is Kensington Oval, Barbados to the West Indies and the Eden Gardens for India.
Pakistan was plundered a couple of cricketing summers ago here as Hales led England’s joint assault over an opponent that was preyed on. In 2016, it was here at Trent Bridge that England blasted their visitors, scoring 444, helped by Hales’ 171. Mohd. Amir was around but had no clue what was happening.
Earlier this year, England returned to their record-breaking venue to thump Australia on way to ODI cricket’s highest-ever team total. Hales would strike a mega-ton again. Bairstow would deliver the goods once more. Eoin Morgan would join the bandwagon too as he did two years back.
Thankfully for India, Hales has chosen only to focus on white-ball cricket.
So there’s one danger averted for Kohli’s team.
And probably, for India, nothing may seem brighter at this time than the sight of Rishabh Pant, not a bad striker of the ball to enter Trent Bridge at a time where nothing’s worked for the side.
The finest part about Rishabh Pant- expected to make his big debut at the Trent Bridge Test- is that he’s not been part of the abominable smashing his team has been handed.
Thankfully, the pain at seeing India bowing down to England was somewhere less hurting than what was being felt by his compatriots at Lord’s.
Who saw India being handed an inning-defeat at the spiritual home of World Cricket when the itinerary of the ensuing tour was announced?
Probably, not Rishabh Pant, a batsman whose game seems embedded in the quintessential mantra we are all told to live by.
“Live in the present, worry not for tomorrow”
One hopes Rishabh Pant would adhere to this wisdom. One hopes he’d take each over of his inning, each hour of his at Trent Bridge at a time.
After all, isn’t this slice of wisdom something that greets us every now and again- whether as the morning WhatsApp wishes or even as an unsolicited advice an elderly figure extends?
Probably, the likes of Saurav Ganguly to an Aakash Chopra, Ravi Shastri and Rishabh Pant’s own captain would advise that to the keen youngster.
Go out there and enjoy your game.
And should Rishabh Pant do just that, bring his natural instincts into play, one assumes he may just get going.
But sitting miles from Trent Bridge or even inside the commentary box at a lush-green picturesque stadia cannot tell a thing about the actual challenge out there.
Rishabh Pant would not need to think like a PhD to learn what’s happening in the current context.
Anderson has suddenly come back alive at a time where it seemed Tom Curran would alone suffice in upsetting India. Broad’s dismissal of Pujara at Lord’s exacerbated the woes of Rishabh Pant’s teammates.
The fact that Chris Woakes, who was nowhere to be seen prior to Lord’s came back only to strike a century on the same ground where Vijay, Pujara, Rahane and Pandya failed with the bat miserably.
While India’s wicketkeeping batsman, has to his credit, according to initial form, a whopping aggregation from the IPL, there’s more to Pant’s record than meets the eye.
Even if one were to cast aside his phenomenal 684 IPL runs, including that very-warrior like 128 for Delhi, his exploits in January in T20 cricket should serve his confidence well.
Upon striking the second-fastest T20 history of all time, Rishabh Pant blasted Himachal on his way to clobbering 12 sixes and 8 fours.
Surely, the boy can hit the cricket ball.
But can he stick around?
Let’s not forget Test cricket is a different ocean.
At Trent Bridge, we will have our answers. These are international waters where Pant will be encircled amid sharks.
The likes of Jimmy and company will come a great deal harder at Pant than they’d at Kohli. Demoralising a rookie, of course, has its own share of advantage for the opposition.
Should Pant be blasted a few short-pitched deliveries and made a target of vicious verbatim from the slip cordon, anchored by a rich display of vehement pace bowling- Anderson and Broad- clearly gunning 135 k/s easily, Pant will cut his teeth at the very top echelons of international cricket.
Should that happen, it’ll undoubtedly offer a mouth-watering feast to cricket-hungry audiences.
In the present circumstances where runs have been hard to come by and Kohli’s 149 in First Test seems a rather rare occurrence something like a Haley’s Comet, you can cringe with the expectations from Rishabh Pant’s blade.
Just how will the boisterous left-hander conduct himself?
He’ll also take heart from the fact that two youngsters, about the same age group as he has gotten going.
You cannot say that Ollie Pope had a dismal Lord’s outing- can you? We saw what Curran did to India.
In a similar vein, back at home, amid familiar conditions, we saw what Pant did to international bowlers, despite his lashing having come at the IPL.
At a time where a firm opening stand for India is probably just as vital as Kohli sticking around for 20 overs at the 22 yards, you cannot resist the temptation of offering a little cushion to young Rishabh Pant.
Here’s a humble plea.
” Dear Team India and its administrators, kindly be patient with Rishabh Pant. Kindly treat a 20 something as being equivalent of not being labelled a failure.”
At the same time, a word for the batsman set for his big debut.
“Dear Rishabh Pant, kindly not rest merely on your IPL laurels. Get ready for the big stage.
Your country needs you to stand up from the ball go.”