WATCH: Rishabh Pant smashing it as an opener in the U19 World Cup
The Indian team management left everyone shell shocked on Wednesday (February 9) with their decision to open with Rishabh Pant for the second ODI against West Indies. With vice-captain KL Rahul coming back into the side for Ishan Kishan, it was believed Rahul would partner skipper Rohit Sharma at the top.
But the think-tank made a surprise move of opening with Pant alongside Rohit with one eye at keeping Rahul in the middle-order in absence of Shikhar Dhawan, who has only just recovered from Covid.
However, while Rishabh Pant’s ascent up the top caught everyone off-guard among fans and experts, this isn’t exactly the first time that the aggressive left-hander has batted at the start of the innings in an Indian shirt.
Pant was seen opening the innings in his breakthrough tryst with the ICC U-19 World Cup in Bangladesh back in 2016 and impressed one and all with his promising powerhitting ability.
Also Read – The Different Layers Of Rishabh Pant
Rishabh Pant smashes it to all parts in 2016 U-19 World Cup
The most eye-catching example of Rishabh Pant’s ability to blast opposition attacks and destroy fielding plans came in a match played in Dhaka against Nepal.
Chasing a paltry score of 170 in a Group D encounter at the Shere Bangla National Stadium, the left-hander took the hapless Nepal bowling attack to the cleaners and smashed a mindboggling 24-ball 78.
Here is a clip featuring the highlights of Rishabh Pant’s blistering effort:
@RishabhPant17 as an opener in U19 WC@BCCI & @DelhiCapitals invested lots innings to pant as middle order but I don't know why again using as opener ?#WIvsIND #INDvsWI #INDvWI #Pant pic.twitter.com/StA6CQvWtN
— Irfan Irru (@Irfan_irru_17) February 9, 2022
Pant’s innings featured nine fours and five sixes as he ended with a jaw-dropping strike-rate of 325 that day and helped India finish off the contest inside 19 overs.
That innings saw him stitch an opening stand of 124 runs in just 55 deliveries with his then U-19 skipper and current Indian back-up Ishan Kishan, who struck an impressive 52 at his end.
It was a pivotal knock in Pant’s career since it arrived a few days before the auction for that year’s edition of the IPL where, impressed by his promise as a wicketkeeper-batter, the then Delhi Daredevils brought him into their squad. Pant hasn’t looked back in his career ever since.