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Saturday, August 18, 2018

young Rishabh Pant arrives at Nottingham - Kohli misses century

The River Trent is the third-longest river in the United Kingdom. Its source is in Staffordshire and it flows through and drains most of the metropolitan central and northern Midlands south and east of its source north of Stoke-on-Trent. The river is known for dramatic flooding after storms and spring snowmelt, which in past times often caused the river to change course.  The 3rd  Test, India tour of Ireland and England is now played at Trent Bridge, Nottingham, Aug 18-22 2018. Nottinghamshire (Notts) is a county in the East Midlands of England, bordering South Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire  and Derbyshire.   The  county council is based in West Bridgford in the borough of Rushcliffe, at a site facing Nottingham over the River Trent.

It is 291 for the youngster ! ~ 280 was Rohit sharma in 2013; then Stuart Binny, Pankaj singh, Karn Sharma, KL Rahul in 2014; Naman Ojha, Jayant Yadav, Karun Nair, KUldeep Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Jasprit Bumrah and now Rishabh Pant today at Nottingham.

Remember that at this venue on Aug 6, 2015 – on an interesting Ashes series in which the 1st  Test at Cardiff was won by England with a handsome margin of 169 runs.  At Lords, Aussies came back so heavily that the margin of defeat was 405 runs.  In the Third at Birmingham, England won by 8 wickets and the one at Nottingham was expected to be a challenging gripper. On that day too, I posted at  11 pm, when England were in sound position of 274/4 with Joe Root unbeaten on 124.  His century had clearly been overshadowed by Stuart Broad who bowled out Aussies for 60 in Test no. 2175.   Australia 60 – yes all out - utterly bereft,  dismissed for 60 in only 18.3 overs, with cricket statisticians wading through damning numbers either achieved or narrowly avoided. Broad, carrying an onerous responsibility in the absence of James Anderson, returned his best Test figures of 8 for 15 in 9.3 new-ball overs amid scenes of general delirium. When it was all over, Anderson led the applause from the dressing room balcony.

Now today at 11 pm – India ended the day at 307/6 with Pant unbeaten on 22.  This morning Joe Root made probably "the toughest selection call" as a Test captain on the eve of the match. Sam Curran, the player of the match at Edgbaston, was left out and Root has "no doubt" over Stokes' readiness – at 10.30am England won the toss and choose to bowl in bid to seal the series.

The winner of Toss Joe Root said : There is a nice covering of grass on this pitch and our seamers have been doing extremely well. I think it's a great opportunity for this team to do something special, if we play to potential. When Adil has come into the game, he has played an important part. Good to have a balanced attack.  The Q to Kohli was whether he was disappointed in losing the toss ..  Kohli came with a stunner - We wanted to bat first, it seems pretty hard. The idea was to play freely and put up runs on the board. Just go out and express yourself. Three changes: one combination change with Bumrah replacing Kuldeep. Pant and Dhawan are in. Jasprit did really well in South Africa and bowls attacking lines and lengths. We think thus surface will slow down after two days, and Ash is always a weapon when the wicket offers something.

India started well crossing 5o then at 18.4 Shikhar Dhawan fell; followed by KL Rahul and when Pujara got out it was 82/3 – all to Chris Woakes.  Rahane and Kohli steadied with a very good partnership and at 241 Rahane departed.  Kohli looked well set for another century but at 97 he drove without getting to the pitch and was caught at slip by Stokes off Rashid for a well made 97.

The debutant Rishabh Pant walked in – he was not the first choice – that one  Wriddhiman Saha was injured, the selectors wanted a young deputy to Dinesh Karthik. Pant was the best choice, the selectors and team management felt, keeping in mind his performances for India A in the last 18 months. The other reason Pant became a favorite was because of his batting form on the India A shadow tour of the UK earlier this summer.  Dinesh Karthik failed in the first 2 tests, perhaps he and Murali Vijay might have blossomed at Nottingham but .. .. today Rishabh Pant, 20, has become the fifth-youngest wicketkeeper to play Test cricket for India and the sixth to make his debut before turning 21.

Since making his first-class debut in 2015 for Delhi, Pant has caught the eye primarily with his batting exploits. He was one of India's stars at the Under-19 World Cup in 2016, when he scored 267 runs at a strike rate of 104.29. Back home, he made 928 runs in eight Ranji Trophy games in 2016-17, scoring his runs at an astonishing strike rate of 107.28 - easily the highest among those who made at least 700 runs that season. His scores that season included a triple-hundred against Maharashtra and a blistering 48-ball hundred against Jharkhand. In the IPL, he had been with  Delhi Daredevils' squad over the last two years, and before the 2018 season was retained by the franchise for INR 8 crore

His definitive moment came in 77th over – Adil Rashid bowling and his second ball of the International career, jumped down to a googly, smashed it straight for a 6. He has survived and is unbeaten on 22 at the draw of stumps today .  .. his 48 ball century came against Jharkhand with 21 sixers in that match  - prior only two had  scored a century off 56 balls: Rajesh Borah in 1987-88 and VB Chandrasekhar in 1988-89.

He has started very well – and a reasonable good innings might put the door shut on DK and perhaps Wriddhiman Saha and other aspiring keeper too ! – welcome to Test Cricket – the young Rishabh Pant.

Regards – S. Sampathkumar
18th Aug 2018.

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