Rishabh Pant gave Ben Stokes’ England a taste of their own medicine with a superb counter-attacking century as India recovered from a top-order collapse on Friday’s opening day of the delayed fifth Test at Edgbaston.
Recalled England great James Anderson and fledgling quick Matthew Potts shared five wickets between them to reduce India to 98-5 after Stokes won the toss under overcast skies in Birmingham.
But Pant responded with a brilliant 146 and together with fellow left-hander Ravindra Jadeja, 83 not out, shared a sixth-wicket partnership of 222 that helped India to 338-7 at stumps.
The quickfire ton off 89 balls from Rishabh is now the fastest by an Indian wicketkeeper in Test cricket.
The 24-year-old broke MS Dhoni’s record of a 93-ball century that came against Pakistan back in 2006.
"In English conditions, especially where you know one bowler is pitching on the same spot, then it is important to disturb him," Pant told reporters.
"As a player I give my 100 percent. Yes, I might play some different shots sometimes, but I try to play my percentage (strokes)," he added.
"Pant came out to play a bit of Bazball, as everyone keeps calling it,” said Paul Collingwood, England’s assistant coach.
“When you have a bit of moisture in the pitch early on, you have a chance to take early wickets, which is what we did. We are going against the grain of much of the cricket’s been played over the last 100 years, but Pant came out and played a blinder,” he added.
England came into this match on the back of a 3-0 series win over Test world champions New Zealand notable for the aggressive, fearless approach they demonstrated under their new leadership duo of captain Stokes and red-ball coach Brendon McCullum. Pant, however, has been playing ‘Bazball’, as England’s new style has been dubbed in honour of the McCullum’s nickname, pretty much his entire career.
He was especially severe on Jack Leach on Friday, swinging himself off his feet while slogging a four and later driving the left-arm spinner one-handed for six in an over costing 22 runs.
Leach, fresh from a 10-wicket haul in the third Test against New Zealand, conceded an expensive 71 runs in nine wicketless overs. Pant’s century came from just 89 balls, including 15 fours and a six.
Part-time off-spinner Joe Root succeeded where the frontline bowlers had failed when Pant edged a drive to Zak Crawley, who held his third slip catch of the day.
It was the end of a double century stand that lasted a mere 39 overs, with the second highest score of Pant’s Test career his fifth hundred in 31 matches and third against England.
Potts, who only made his international debut against New Zealand, had earlier added to his growing reputation by removing Virat Kohli for 11.
The 23-year-old had dismissed Black Caps skipper Kane Williamson three times in four innings and on Friday, following a 90-minute rain delay, the paceman took two wickets for five runs in seven balls to reduce India to 71-4. Potts had Hanuma Vihari plumb lbw for 20 before he induced Kohli to play on, with the star batsman having now gone nearly three years since making the last of his 27 Test hundreds.
Friday’s match should have been played in Manchester last September only to be postponed just hours before the scheduled start because of coronavirus concerns.
78 balls by Virender Sehwag vs West Indies at Gros Islet in 2006
87 balls by Mohammed Azharuddin vs England at Lord's in 1990
89 balls by Rishabh Pant vs England at Edgbaston in 2022
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