Rishabh Pant’s omission from India’s World Cup squad has been one of the major talking points for a week. On Monday night, the explosive left-handed batsman showed why.
His unbeaten 78 off 36 balls against Rajasthan Royals underlined his value as a match-winner and finisher. Though he had made an identical score in Delhi Capitals’ first match this IPL against Mumbai Indians, he had scores of 23, 7 and 6 in his last three games.
The vintage Pant is back, however. After guiding his team to what was its fifth win from six away games, he said thoughts of selection for India’s World Cup team were on his mind.
“I won’t lie, the thought was running on my mind,” Pant said. “It feels lovely having helped my team win a crucial match. And that is really important.”
His teammate Prithvi Shaw paid glowing tributes to him. “He is the biggest finisher in T20 right now, especially for our team,” the opener said.
“Our bowlers also did very well to restrict Royals in the last seven overs. Otherwise the total could have even gone up to 220.”
Shaw said the team was confident of chasing down the target of 192. “The boundaries are huge here and we felt Shikhar Dhawan or I had to take chances in the PowerPlay,” he said. “And he played really well.”
Royals’ Sanju Samson also said Dhawan’s innings was crucial. “He is in good form and took the PowerPlay from us,” he said. “Then Pant finished the job.”
He admitted it would be tough for Royals to qualify for the playoffs now. “We have to win all our five games,” he said.
“And we have to look at the results of the other teams as well.”