By Vivek Prabhakar Singh
Birmingham [UK], July 2 (ANI): Swashbuckling batter Rishabh Pant scored a brilliant ton to put India in a strong position at 338/7 at stumps on Day 1 here at the Edgbaston Stadium in Birmingham on Friday after a point when they were tottering at 98 for 5. He also showed that he loves playing against England as he scored his third century against them and his second in their backyard.
The wicket-keeper batter made his Test debut against England. He got off the mark in the longest format of the game with a towering six at the Trent Bridge in Nottingham in 2018. Pant went on to slam his maiden Test century against them at the Oval in London scoring 114 in the same series. His only Test ton on Indian soil has come against England at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad in 2021.
The 24-year-old walked out to bat at 64 for 3 when Hanuma Vihari was dismissed leg before wicket for 20 by pacer Matthew Potts. From the other end, he saw the likes of Virat Kohli and Shreyas Iyer biting the dust with scores of 11 and 15 respectively. The Indian batters had no answer to the English bowlers' swing, movement and guile.
Despite the procession at the other end and English bowlers having their tails up, Pant played his natural game and attacked whenever he got a loosener or got a ball in his arc. To give him company at the other end was Ravindra Jadeja who rather held one end tight and did not allow the wickets to fall at the other end.
Pant took India's total beyond the 150-run mark and in the process notched up his half-century in just 51 balls. After that, the southpaw became more aggressive and started to toy away with the English bowling attack targeting slow left-arm orthodox bowler Jack Leach and taking him to the cleaners using his feet straight down the ground and in the process became the youngest wicket-keeper-batter to hit 2,000 Test runs. He went on to hit his fifth century reaching the triple-figure mark in just 89 balls. He also smashed pacers Matthew Potts and James Anderson and part-time bowler. Leach finished with figures of 71 runs in 9 overs and Potts too conceded 85 runs in 17 overs taking two wickets. Part-time bowler Joe Root too conceded 23 runs in three overs.
This brilliant ton was Delhi lad's third ton against England and second in their backyard and fourth overseas which includes one each in Australia and South Africa.
Pant, along with Jadeja, took India's total beyond the 300-run mark. The swashbuckling left-handed batter was finally dismissed for 146 off 111 balls smashing 19 boundaries and four sixes. He, along with Jadeja, took the Indian team from 98/5 to 320/6 after being caught in the first slip by Zak Crawley off Joe Root's bowling.
Pant-Jadeja put on a 222-run partnership for the sixth wicket which is India's highest-ever partnership against England surpassing the 204-run Pant-KL Rahul partnership at the Oval in London. In this match too, the southpaw scored a ton which was his first Test century scoring 114. Jadeja remained unbeaten at 83 at the end of the day's play with Mohammed Shami batting at the other end. (ANI)