Losing the Test was a reality check of sorts for the high-flying Indian team. Rishabh Pant, however, drew lots of confidence from the game. In a casual chat before leaving for England for the ongoing tour, he would say he got a high from the fact that the England team couldn’t declare because they were wary of him.
In the two preceding Tests in Australia, Pant and Shubman Gill had set the tone for two improbable chases. The one in Sydney ended in a draw while Pant made sure he finished the job in Brisbane. These two boys in their early 20s have managed to create waves with their exploits in Test cricket.
Much of the talk leading to the World Test Championship final against New Zealand has revolved around how the likes of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane need to rise to the occasion and win an ICC trophy for India for the first time in a decade. But it’s also true that Pant and Gill have played crucial roles in getting India into the final.
“The youngsters are ready to raise their hands. They are confident and they have already done well in unfamiliar conditions in Australia,” Pujara had remarked on Tuesday.
Rahane, who led the side in Australia in absence of Kohli after the first Test, is obviously happy with the spell cast by the youngsters. A sheepish smile broke out when he was asked about the kind of conversations the team management was having with the youngsters ahead of the big game.
“Personally, I am not telling them anything. They know their gameplan. It’s about giving them freedom, backing them, believing in their abilities. We don’t want any kind of confusion in their minds,” Rahane said on Wednesday.
The int is Pant and Gill have the license to kill and the team management doesn’t want to fiddle with their mindset.
New Zealand vice-captain and experienced seamer Tim Southee is wary of the damage these two boys could do. “There are experienced players but there are a couple of young boys who come out and play with freedom and excitement,” Southee said.
The New Zealand camp will be spending decent time on analysing the youngsters. “There are footages available of these two players. We will be watching those closely and try to work out a plan which hopefully works in the next few days. With this Indian batting lineup, you have to be on top of your game to make sure they don’t run away with the game,” Southee explained.