On a hot afternoon in Ahmedabad on Friday (March 5), Pant left England suffer in the sun as he helped India recover from 80-4 and later 146-6 to hit 294-7 in the end.
The 23-year-old reached his century, his third for India and a first on home soil, with a six from Joe Root. That was the 115th ball Pant faced, but he died by the 118th, pulling a train from James Anderson to Root in Midwicket.
And while he was furious for throwing his wicket away like that, the second day of that final game in the series was emphatically Pant’s day with India putting up a first inning pillow of 89 as far as they could try to build on their 2-1 lead.
From 24-1 overnight, India was dealt two heavy blows in the middle of the morning session when Cheteshwar Pujara was brought to his knees by Jack Leach, soon followed by captain Virat Kohli, caught behind Ben Stokes without scoring a goal . England grabbed another large wicket just before lunch and Stokes took the slip from Anderson to remove Ajinkya Rahane.
Losing Rohit Sharma for 49 was another major blow to prospects of well above England’s 205. Stokes held him down with a delivery that fell sharply off the field and hit the batsman over the back cushion.
When Ravichandran Ashwin fell to Leach for 13, England had a head start on the first innings but those hopes soon faded. Stokes threatened another breakthrough, but Pant’s Derring-Do-Chop outside the tree stump cleared the second slip and ran to the border to get India over the 200 mark.
Pant pulled Stokes to the limit to bring the teams up to par, and when the English all-rounder dropped the ball on his run-up in the same run, that summed up his frustration as he shot it away.
With the wind in the sails, Pant boldly picked up the new ball as Anderson stepped on the attack and lightly slammed the first two deliveries to the limit. On Anderson’s next lap, he swept the Paceman backwards over England’s slip cordon and onto the ropes. Washington Sundar (60 not out) delivered a capable company in a partnership worth 113.
Pant was mad at himself for getting out so quickly after hitting three numbers and giving Anderson a third wicket, but at that point the young batsman didn’t owe anyone an apology.
India is heating up
When the temperature rose above 40 degrees Celsius, England withered. This does not mean that the efforts have decreased because Stokes mainly came with the familiar vigor, but India felt comfortable in the scorching conditions and the more escapes the hosts enjoyed, the more the heat affected them in the field.
Misfortune combined with scorching heat is a tiring combination, while Dom Bess’ bouts resulted in England lacking a reliable off-spinning option. Throw Pant’s brilliance into the equation and it turned out to be a tiring late afternoon for the tourists.
Or almost flawless anyway. He lived dangerously at times and offered England a glimpse into the odds, but this was quite a growing-up moment for Pant as he celebrated a first testing century in India. The likelihood is that there will be a lot more of the wicketkeeper batsman who hit 13 fours and a pair of sixes in his stroke and changed the look of this competition stroke by stroke.
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