Delhi Daredevils v Gujarat Lions, IPL 2017, Delhi May 5, 2017

'Don't think too much, just keep hitting'

ESPNcricinfo staff
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'If the ball is bad, I'll punish it' - Pant

Rishabh Pant's unfettered approach to ball-striking has constantly been likened to that of fellow Delhi resident Virender Sehwag. On Thursday night, Pant's breathless, yet artful decimation of Gujarat Lions with a 43-ball 97, including nine sixes, moved Sehwag to hail his "special ability" on Twitter.

Had Sehwag watched Pant's media interactions following Delhi Daredevils' chase of 209 with 15 balls to spare, he would likely have smiled at how the 19-year-old channelled his inner Sehwag with straight-faced one-liners.

The most revealing insight into Pant's batting philosophy was provided by Sanju Samson, who made 61 off 31 balls, during their post-match interview with Daredevils mentor Rahul Dravid on iplt20.com. During the course of their 143-run partnership off 63 balls for the second wicket, Samson had struck two sixes in an over and was looking to play safe. Pant, however, didn't approve of the tactic.

"I started the innings really well. After hitting two sixes [in an over], I thought about taking a single," Samson told Dravid."He [Pant] came to me and told me: 'Bhaiyya, zyaada socho mat, bas maarte raho (brother, don't think too much, just keep hittting)'. I think that really helped me to go on. I really enjoyed batting with him."

Pant walked the talk. Two balls after Karun Nair was dismissed, he whacked Basil Thampi over cover for six. He similarly avenged Samson's departure by smacking Ravindra Jadeja's next two deliveries for six and four. He blitzed his way to a half-century off 27 balls and his next 44 came off 16 deliveries.

"I will see the ball - if the ball is there to hit, I will hit it," Pant said of his mind-set. "I was not thinking I will get out or something like that. If the ball is bad, you have to punish it. That's what I am doing."

'If I would have got three runs, I would have finished the match. If I would have finished the match, I would have got three runs' © Getty Images

When Dravid asked Pant which bowlers he and Samson targeted, the answer was a variation of the see-ball, hit-ball theme. "We were not thinking about the next ball," Pant said. "Like I told you, sir, if we get a bad ball … we planned everything like that. I told Sanju bhai [to keep hitting the balls that were there to be hit] - [he] was planning a few things at the start - but when he started getting in the middle, he told me 'I will go for everything.'"

Even when Pant was three short of his hundred, he didn't hold back. An attempted slog into the leg side off Thampi only resulted in a thick outside edge to the keeper. Pant had to drag himself back to the dugout, but he later said he wasn't thinking about the hundred.

"I was just thinking about chasing down the total as quickly as I can," he said. For good measure, he topped it off with a philosophical nugget right out of the Sehwag school. "If I would have got three runs, I would have finished the match. If I would have finished the match, I would have got three runs."

It was an attitude that gladdened Dravid. "What was impressive for me was Rishabh - batting on 97 and not thinking about his 100 at that stage and still going for his shots," he said. "[He was] not worrying about the 100 and [was] looking to get the team home. Incredible innings from the two boys and truly well-deserved."

Dravid, however, raised the bar for Pant and Samson. "I am a hard taskmaster [and] I hope that you guys will next time finish the job and stay not out."

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  • ALLROUNDCRICKET on May 6, 2017, 7:48 GMT

    Sehwag revolutionised batting and Delhi cricket. Look at the players that have followed: Gambhir, Kohli in just 10 years to have played and Won World Cups, Tests and been stalwarts.

    Hopefully Rishabh turns into more than a one season wonder. His keeping too has improved.

  • vsatoskar on May 6, 2017, 1:21 GMT

    An exciting exhibition of cricketing skills by Rishab-- "Gayle"-like batting and a great catch as a wicketkeeper. His idol lefty wicketkeeper, Adam Gilchrist, would be very proud of this youngster. Rishab deserved a century on that day and could have gotten it if he had continued on with his own gut feeling of "keep on hitting"--instead, his mind took over being so close to the century.

  • cricketbreather on May 5, 2017, 15:32 GMT

    Someone was predicting an early exist for Sanju, Rishabh Pant making twenty odd and a definite loss for DD.Even at the innings break DD was not favoured. What happened thereafter reconfirms the unpredictability of the great game.It also reflects the bright future of Indian cricket. The four from DD batting line up - Nair, Sanju, Pant & Iyer- is India material. Not forgetting the likes of Washington Sundar, Rahul Thripathi, Yazuvendra Chahal etc. Yet we have to stand and salute the knocks from youngsters yesterday. Great may not be suffice, Awesome may also fall short. Thanks boys for the quality entertainment.

  • Sir_Ivor on May 5, 2017, 14:22 GMT

    The general impression is that people like high scoring games in the IPL on batting friendly wickets. That is not correct. People equally like a tense battle between bat and ball. In fact I hope for the rest of the games we have pitches with a green cover and bounce or spin friendly ones. That will show the real worth of the batsmen who have been burning the scorecards so far.

  • Jose...P on May 5, 2017, 14:18 GMT

    @Sir_Ivor on May 5, 2017, 12:05 GMT

    Yes; true. In terms of technical perfection, Samson is really ahead of Pant. Pant also need to improve his footwork, which he is compensating now with sheer power. On seaming & swinging wickets & against reallyfast bowlers, those weaknesses may show up. Yet, I will encourage him by giving a chance in dead rubbers & this reluctant entry in CT

    I was thinking having both of them in a future XI.

    Sanju for Retd Sehwag, and Pant for "to be retd" Dhoni!

    When Sanju burst on to the scene, I was hoping, he'll be Dhoni's successor. Over a period of time his WK skills are a bit down, but his batting has improved a lot.

    If and when we choose a team for CT, I would like to give a chance to Rahul Tripathi too. To fill in the "injury proned" opening slot.

    Ideally all the new boys need to play at least a full Ranji season, before giving them a chance in the India XI.

    Just for this CT, as a one time chance, I don't mind trying out new talents though.

  • AltafPatel on May 5, 2017, 13:50 GMT

    Credits go to dead pitch. Imagine future of our youngsters.

  • LivingDead on May 5, 2017, 13:44 GMT

    so dravid praises him that he still went for his shots while on 97 and got out. then he says he wants them not out for next game. contradictory expectations??

  • Gopez on May 5, 2017, 13:00 GMT

    In my view we have a excellent T20 team ready for next WC. SAmson seems to be coming on really well, Pant is exceptional to be in indian team for Champions trophy. Samson, Rahul ,Pant,Virat, Jadhav,Uthappa,pandey/Rohit,Raina.Yuvraj,Shreyas, Pandya's, bumrah,shami,yadav,jadeja, axar,kuldeep...bhuvi

  • needgreenpitches4bowlingallrounders on May 5, 2017, 12:14 GMT

    @Indiansaregreat you are right in more ways like young Indian talent coming through IPL channel but no harm in enjoying Gayle storm or any other international blitzes. Remember nothing will happen without competition. Sky is limit if all Young Indian players want to emulate best in business foreign players.. India can have our own Thampi's and Siraj's .Batting wise we always had power packages but not soo many like 2017 from younger lot.

  • Sir_Ivor on May 5, 2017, 12:05 GMT

    JOSE...P Sehwag would have hit a six as he did when he scored 300 in Pakistan . In fact he hit a six to get to his 100, to his 200 and the to his 300. On each of those occasions Saqlain Mushtaq ,the inventor of the Doosra ,was the bowler ! Though Pant is the toast of the town he lacks the finesse of Sehwag big time. Samson is closer to Sehwag .Perfect weight transfer and gaps found almost by instinct.The ball just racing to the boundary brooking no stops.

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