Rishabh Pant bats on Day 1 of India vs Sri Lanka 1st Test© BCCI
Rishabh Pant’s blistering innings ended in a heartbreak as he fell just four short from registering his fifth hundred in the longest format on Day 1 of India vs Sri Lanka first Test at the PCA stadium in Mohali on Friday. This would have been Pant’s second hundred at home and first against Sri Lanka in any condition but the left-hander was cleaned up Suranga Lakmal when he was batting on 96. The ball just came back in slightly to sneak through the gap between Pant’s bat and pad. This was the fifth time Pant was dismissed in the 90s, join most with MS Dhoni among designated wicketkeepers. Understandably so, Pant was distraught. It took a while for him to make his way into the dressing room.
Pant, who got to his fifty off 73 balls, played just two dot balls after reaching the milestone and then launched a no-holds-barred attack on Sri Lanka’s spinners. The attacking left-handed India wicketkeeper-batter hit left-arm spinner Lasith Embuldeniya for 22 runs in the 76th over that included two huge sixes and as many fours. If anyone thought Pant’s assault was reserved for the left-arm spinner only, they were about to be proven wrong.
In the next over, the 24-year-old danced down the track and hit off-spinner Dhananjaya de Silva for a six and a four – one of them with one hand to race to 82 in no time.
Such was Pant’s dazzling display of strokeplay that Sri Lanka were forced to get rid of all close in catchers and deploy a field similar to limited-overs cricket.
The left-hander stayed away from the strike for the next over bowled by left-arm seamer Vishwa Fernando but seemed to be in a hurry the moment he got the strike back against the off-spinner de Silva. He charged down the track twice, did not get the desired connection but had enough bat to collect two more boundaries to race to the 90s.
When things were set for him to get to the three-figure mark, the unthinkable happened. The second new ball did the trick for Sri Lanka as Lakmal managed to breach Pant’s defence to end his innings.
The left-hander’s blazing knock and a 104-run stand for the sixth wicket Ravindra Jadeja gave India the upper hand in the first Test after captain Rohit Sharma opted to bat first.
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