‘He will serve the country for long’

Rishabh Pant’s fast-tracking into the Test team is culmination of a process where the National selectors have come to reward consistency. He has made everyone sit up and accept his audacious way of making a point.

When he left the small town of Roorkee in search of a cricketing career, he knew the journey was bound to test his character and commitment.

To his fortune he landed at the Delhi’s Sonnet Club where the Argus-eyed coach Tarak Sinha spotted a potential “dynamite” in the youngster who wanted to demonstrate his aggressive brand of cricket.

The call-up for the forthcoming Test series against England was hardly a surprise for Sinha.

“He had improved on his wicket-keeping considerably. I had insisted that he had to be a good keeper first and then back it with his batting. He has been uncompromising as far as hard work is concerned. Never late for training and always attentive. Believe me, he will serve Indian cricket long and serve it well,” said Sinha.

For Pant, it worked in his favour that Sinha too was a wicket-keeper. Then, he came under the wings of Rahul Dravid, who was a reluctant but efficient wicket-keeper. As India-A coach Dravid spent long hours with the Delhi youngster and Pant, 20, benefited from the wisdom he acquired from the batting master. It reflected in his game.

Once Pant decided to put value to his wicket, the bowlers realised they had a job at hand. “Before he left for England, I worked on his temperament and drilled home the point that he must learn to be patient. Temperament is the key if a player has to stand up to challenges. Rishabh has been a disciplined member of our club and brings lot of passion to his batting,” noted Sinha.

Inputs from Dravid

Dravid’s inputs gave the National selectors insight into Pant’s restructured game. His consistency with the bat and improved wicket-keeping, especially his gathering of the moving ball, made a huge impression on the Indian team management.

The unfortunate injury to Wriddhiman Saha opened the doors for Pant, who always backed himself as a five-day player even though his awesome strokeplay often leaves a trail of destruction in the shorter formats.

For the diminutive Pant, a debut in England would be a tribute to his struggle. “ It’s just the beginning ,” says Sinha, the mentor who polished the raw talent from Roorkee.

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