India vs Australia 4th Test: One of the biggest moments of my life now, says man-of-the-match Rishabh Pant
When we sit down to analyse the Indian performances in the 2-1 Test series win over Australia, one of the biggest performers will be wicketkeeper batsman Rishabh Pant. The young Delhi wicketkeeper was left out of the opening Test in Adelaide due to poor form but ended up as India’s leading run-scorer in the series with 274 runs, capping it off with a man-of-the-match performance of 89 not out in a chase of 328 runs.
“This is one of the biggest moments of my life now and I’m happy that all the support staff and all my teammates supported me even when I wasn’t playing,” Rishabh Pant said in the post-match presentation.
“It’s been a dream series. The team management always backs me and tells me, you are a matchwinner and you have to go win the match for the team,” Pant, who scored two half centuries in the series, said.
“I keep thinking every day that I want to win matches for India, and I did it today. It was a fifth-day pitch and the ball was turning a bit. I thought I have to be disciplined with my shot selection,” Pant, who averaged 68.5 over the course of the series, said.
Stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane had an unenviable task of lifting the side for the second Test in Melbourne after the side had slumped to a record low of 36 in the opening Day/Night Test. Skipper Virat Kohli had to fly back home for the birth of his daughter while Mohammad Shami was already injured after first Test.
The task kept getting harder as the series progressed but Rahane rose to the ocassion in the Boxing Day Test, scoring 112 as India bounced back to win the second Test by eight wickets.
“It really means a lot to us. I don’t know how to describe this victory. I’m just proud of all the boys, each and every individual. We just wanted to give our best, not to think about the result,” Rahane said in the post-match briefing.
Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Ravindra Jadeja, Hanuma Vihari and Ravichandran Ashwin all got injured as India brought a third-string attack for the fourth and final Test to Australia’s ‘fortress’ Gabba. Few would have given India any chance to win the game when they needed 328 runs on a crumbling fifth-day pitch.
“When I went in, conversation between me and Pujara was Puji to bat normal and me to go for my shots, because we knew Rishabh and Mayank were there. Credit to Pujara, the way he handled the pressure was magnificent, and Rishabh was brilliant in the end.
“Taking 20 wickets was the key, that’s what we identified, that’s why we picked five bowlers. Washington Sundar got that balance for us, intention was to play five bowlers. Siraj had played two Test matches, Saini one, Thakur one, Natarajan also on debut, all credit to them,” Rahane said, giving credit to the bowlers.
Asked how India managed to bounce back in the series, Rahane said, “After Adelaide we didn’t discuss about what happened, we just wanted to play our game, show good attitude, show good character on the field. It was all about the team effort. I would also like to thank our fans who came out here and supported us, and the Indian team would like to give Nathan Lyon a signed jersey for his 100th Test match.”