Legendary Indian batter VVS Laxman has called into question Rishabh Pant’s batting approach on the first day of the first Test against Australia.
Speaking on ESPNCricinfo, Laxman was critical of his fellow countryman after Pant came to the wicket with his side in deep trouble on 86-5 on the first morning of the first Test against Australia.
Pant proceeded to hit some lusty blows, including one shot that saw him almost swing himself off his feet as he scored 25 off 38 balls. His innings included two fours and a six as he appeared to play with all the freedom of white ball cricket, a format in which he has already enjoyed some success.
‘It is about focus and concentration, and when Pant was playing it was evident that he was not able to control the thoughts which were going in his mind,’ said the sublimely talented Laxman. ‘You can’t be in that space of mind and be restless, especially in this situation.’
Pant has been in terrific form with the bat for his country since making his Test debut in England in August. In his previous three Test innings (in three separate Test matches) he scored 114 against England (his maiden Test ton), followed by two scores of 92 against the West Indies prior to the Adelaide Test.
“You go out and play your natural game, but it’s very important that the natural game should be in line with what the team demands from you. You can’t afford to get out every time playing your natural game,’ added Laxman.
While the talented 21-year-old could arguably have been chastised for his injudicious batting, it must be pointed out that he came to the wicket after Rohit Sharma had departed after scoring 37 off 61 balls, an innings which included two fours and three sixes.
The last two balls Sharma faced were both slog-swept to the square leg boundary, the first being caught by Aussie debutant Marcus Harris in the air as his body crossed the boundary, but his valiant attempt to lob the ball into play was a fraction too late and the third umpire awarded Sharma a six. The next ball the batter attempted the same stroke, but this time his connection was not as good and Harris completed the catch after moving in from the boundary.
Sharma has 1,479 Test runs compared to Pant’s 346, so both are relatively new to the Test arena, but one would have expected their team tactics to have been a bit more stringently observed on the first morning of a major Test series, especially considering the side’s struggles with the bat in India.
‘Pant is young in his career, but has to realise that he has to play as per the demands of the team. Play your natural game, but play high percentage strokes,’ concluded Laxman.
Fortunately for India, Cheteshwar Pujara played a level-headed inning, scoring 123 off 246 balls to guide India to a decent score of 250 all out, which, considering Australia’s subsequent first innings score of 191-7 at the close of day two, has kept them in a great position to push for the win.
Despite his ‘reckless’ batting, Pant is an exciting batter to watch, and has the ability to enjoy a long and fruitful career in Tests as well as in the world of the white ball.
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