India opener Rohit Sharma called Rishabh Pant a “spark” that Indian team needs in the middle-order and has called on people to be more patient with his style of play that sees him get dismissed often in casual manner.
Pant made 101 off 118 deliveries to lead India’s revival after they were first struggling at 121 for five and then at 146 for six.
Pant made a patient half-century, scoring his 50 off 82 deliveries and then scored the next fifty off just 33 balls to reach his hundred.
“That is something we need. We need that spark in the middle. He brings that to us. He understand his game really well now. He plays that game,” Sharma told the media here on Friday, the second day of the fourth and final Test.
“There are some guys who play respectfully and then you need some who are courageous and are willing to take chances. Cricket now is different from what it was back in the day. So, you need to be courageous and take chances. As long he gets the job done, it is fine with us,” added Sharma.
Pant has been at the receiving end of heavy criticism in the recent past, after he seemed to have squandered his starts away. He was made to sit out of the white-ball series in Australia and called up from only the second Test onwards. Since then, his stock has risen as he has played some sensational knocks. He first helped India win Test series in Australia and then put India on the cusp of the World Test Championship final on Friday.
“But there are times when he will get out. I don’t want anyone to get upset with that, because he is a kind of player who can play an innings like that and from a situation where we were struggling, he can suddenly, in a span of one hour, [take you to a position where] your team starts to look different,” said Sharma.
Sharma, who is India’s leading run-getter in the series, was quite effusive in his praise of the manner in which Pant builds his innings, trusting his defence in the initial phase.
“In the first half, he was quite respectful. He was trusting his defence. Once we got to 200, he just wanted to take on the bowlers,” said Sharma.
“In my opinion, it was probably one of his finest knocks. He was quite cautious at the beginning and then he actually flourished the way he batted, and put the team into a commanding position,” he said. “People like Pant…you need to back their skills and their ability on how they bat. [Team] management completely understands that. Of course, he has been given that freedom as well.”