'Once we decide to bat first, we back our decision' - Rishabh Pant

Wicketkeeper-batter admits India "could have applied ourselves better" but refuses to dwell on toss

Sidharth Monga
Sidharth Monga
On a day that India were bowled out for 78 before conceding 120 for no loss, India's wicketkeeper-batter Rishabh Pant was in no mood to look back at the decision to bat first at the toss. It is not what you choose to do, but how you do it, according to Pant. And he would like "much better application" in that how.
This was the first time Virat Kohli had won the toss in England in eight Tests, but he faced a tricky decision because the pitch looked brown although recent data at Headingley suggests batting keeps on getting easier there after a tough first day or so.
England extracted more swing and seam with the new ball than they have done all series before the "tacky" pitch, according to Joe Root, settled down. Root said he was unsure what to do so he was happy to lose his first toss to Kohli at home.
"Whatever decision we take, we take as a team," Pant said. "So once we have decided we are going to bat first, we are going to back our decision. Yes we could have applied much better but we can't keep on thinking too much about the toss.
"It's part and parcel of the game. Everyday the batting unit is giving its 100% but sometimes it doesn't go well. In the morning, the wicket was slightly on the softer side and they bowled in good areas. We could have applied ourselves better. We can learn from it and only move on. That's all we can do as cricketers. You learn from your mistakes and improve."
Pant said the conditions got much easier by the time India began to bowl. "They took the heavy roller, the wicket was much more settled down, and they batted nicely also," he said. "But when we batted, the wicket was slightly soft, and they bowled in good areas, but we could have applied [ourselves] much better…"
India are making a highly enterprising selection by batting Pant at No. 6 in a batting line-up whose big guns have been struggling for runs. Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane have been averaging in the 20s over the last two years, which means Pant has been called upon to perform the rescue act more often than a wicketkeeper-batter likes. Pant looks at it more as an opportunity than pressure.
"As a cricketer, I don't think in that manner." Pant said. "Whatever be the situation, you think about the team first and what you can do in that situation… if the top-order collapses and you get an opportunity, I see it as an opportunity that if you can bail the team out of that situation, you are going to do wonders in your life, as a cricketer."

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo