December 11 2018
India registered a memorable opening Test victory in Australia for the very first time, triumphing in Adelaide by a narrow 31 run margin. The visitors had a lot of heroes with bat and ball but the highlight of the showdown was definitely wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant who let his gloves and, well, his mouth do the talking!
For starters, he pouched 11 catches from behind the stumps over the course of the two innings to equal the world record previously shared by Jack Russell and AB de Villiers. Russell achieved the feat for England against South Africa in 1995 while South Africa’s de Villiers took the same number of catches against Pakistan in 2013. The previous record by an Indian wicketkeeper was 10 catches by Wriddhiman Saha against South Africa earlier this year.
In the first innings, Pant had also equaled the Indian record for most catches by a wicketkeeper in one Test innings. The 21 year old took 6 catches in the first innings, equaling MS Dhoni’s record against New Zealand in 2009.
But while the catches were crucial and took India to a maiden opening Test win on Australian soil, it was his non-stop banter from behind the stumps that stole the show, especially on Day 5. Pant was a livewire throughout the Australian batting innings, sledging incessantly. He went after Pat Cummins with a series of quips like “Not everyone is Pujara here”, “It’s not easy to survive, man”, “Come on Pat, hit some sixes”, “Keep bowling in the patch to Pat” and “Come on Pat, you’re not putting the bad balls away”.
One can only imagine how annoying the Australians must’ve found him, especially Cummins, who was finally dismissed because of a lapse in concentration due to Pant’s relentless sledging.
Pant and his quips were soon trending on social media and the match commentators even paused commentary for an entire over to listen to Pant on the stump mic but not everyone was pleased. The Australians are the master sledgers of all time and the likes of Sunil Gavaskar believe that Pant is playing with fire by taking on the Aussies in their own backyard.
But this is not the Indian team of yore that would turn over on its back and let opponents dominate proceedings. Virat Kohli’s men have arrived in Australia with a single minded purpose of registering a historic Test series triumph on Aussie soil and they will do whatever it takes to beat the hosts, including taking them on at their own game!