Brilliant Pant century helps India take crucial lead against England

Filed on March 5, 2021 | Last updated on March 5, 2021 at 10.14 pm
Rishabh Pant of India celebrates after scoring a hundred. (BCCI)

The wicketkeeper-batsman single-handedly put India in command on the second day of the fourth Test

Reverse sweeping James Anderson to pick a boundary on the second day of a Test match perfectly summed up Rishabh Pant's belligerent knock at the Narendra Modi Stadium on Friday.

The swashbuckling wicketkeeper-batsman single-handedly put India in command on the second day of the fourth Test against England with his third century in Test cricket.

Having started cautiously, Pant took the English bowlers to the cleaners in the final session to take the game away from the visitors and put the hosts in the driver's seat.

At stumps, India's score read 294/7 with Washington Sundar (60) and Axar Patel (11) at the crease -- leading the visitors by 89 runs in the first innings. India scored 141 runs in 32 overs in the final session of the second day.

With wickets tumbling around him, Pant took 82 balls to reach his first fifty runs. But the next 50 came off just 33 balls as he decided to send the English bowlers on a leather hunt.

The second new ball turned to be a blessing in disguise for the batsman as the ball started coming onto the bat beautifully and he was more than happy to bring out the unorthodox shots from the kitty.

He found a perfect company in Sundar as the bowling all-rounder held one end up and gave Pant the freedom to wield the willow. To reverse sweep Anderson is audacious to say the least and to think the legend was bowling with the new ball makes it even braver.

Batting risk-free in the second session, Pant put on his dancing shoes post-tea and creamed a flurry of boundaries post the drinks break. A top-quality knock from Pant saw him receiving a standing ovation from the Ahmedabad crowd.

While Pant looked in sublime form as he smashed two consecutive boundaries off Anderson's over just after the drinks break, Washington joined the party as he first hit a superb backfoot drive and then flashed hard at the ball for a four.

Having lost six wickets in the first two sessions, Pant and Washington started the final session cautiously but the wicketkeeper batsman soon changed gears.

Minutes into the final session, Pant completed his seventh half-century in the longest format of the game. There was no looking back after that. In fact, the wicket-keeper brought up his third Test century with a six as he kept swatting the ball.

But Anderson broke the deadlock as Pant departed soon after his ton. Washinton continued his fine form and completed a well-made fifty with Axar Patel giving him company.

In the second session, Pant and Washington had taken India to 153/6 after losing Rohit Sharma and Ravichandran Ashwin.

A disciplined effort from the English bowlers saw the visitors taking the honours in the session. Rohit and Pant had started well in the post-lunch session as they looked to defend the good balls and score of the rare bad deliveries. But just when the two started to look good, Stokes sent back Rohit, one short of a much-deserved fifty.

Ashwin joined Pant in the middle and tried to accumulate runs to reduce the deficit. The duo had a brief 25-run partnership for the sixth wicket until Jack Leach sent Ashwin (13) back in the concluding minutes of the session.

In the first session, Anderson had claimed the wicket of Ajinkya Rahane at the stroke of lunch as England bowlers led the fightback for the visitors.

Going into the morning session with the score of 24/1 and with Rohit and Pujara at the crease, the hosts would have liked to get closer to the visitors' total without losing a wicket. But it wasn't to be as Leach struck first to send back Pujara, leg before.

Virat Kohli too failed to leave a mark as he was caught behind off Stokes.

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