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Match Analysis

The audacious, and gloriously disrespectful Rishabh Pant

You don't do what he did to James Anderson. But then, you're not Rishabh Pant.

There's audacity, and there's plain disrespect.
Rishabh Pant was five years and 72 days old when James Anderson made his England debut.
On Friday afternoon in Ahmedabad, Anderson, 38 years and 218 days old and bowling as well as ever, had figures of 17-11-19-2 when he ran in to bowl with an unsullied second new ball. Pant, 23 years and 152 days old, ran down the pitch and smoked him over mid-off, finishing with his back leg in the flamingo position.
You don't do that to Anderson. You don't do that to Anderson bowling with a new ball. But you aren't Rishabh Pant.
To the next ball, Pant took a massive stride forward, perhaps even before Anderson had released. The length was perhaps short of good length, and the line was wide outside off. He was in no position to play that ball, but that's a problem for other batsmen. For Pant, it was simply a ball he could wallop through cover point, even if it meant he had to reach out with arms at full stretch and address the ball with a flat-bat, topspin slap.
At the start of Anderson's next over, Pant was batting on 89. Perhaps this would bring a measure of restraint to his batting, you might have thought. Particularly since his last eight Test innings had included two dismissals in the 90s, and an unbeaten 89.
Restraint? Pant reverse-swept Anderson from the line of the stumps, falling away to the leg side as he did so, and watched the ball fly over the leaping first slip fielder.
It was audacious, it was gloriously disrespectful, and it was in every way what we've come to expect from Pant.
In time, we'll get used to all the other bits too, because it's taken more than just edge-of-the-seat shot-making for Pant to average upwards of 60 in these last two series he's played, against strong bowling attacks in mostly bowler-friendly conditions.
Through that tour of Australia and this series against England, we've begun to understand the logic that underpins nearly every Pant innings. It's often a logic entirely his own, such as when he decides the best way to deal with the ball turning and jumping out of the rough is to try and hit it for six, repeatedly, even with long-on an deep midwicket back and with India miles away from saving the follow-on.
But sometimes, as on Friday, the logic is far more straightforward. This innings was as close as he has ever come to batting like a typical No. 6. The slap-happy finish will live long in the memory, but the build-up was utterly sedate, by his standards, and brilliantly calculated.
When Pant walked in, India were 80 for 4, and trailed by 125 on an unusual sort of pitch where there was help for the spinners but also enough to interest the quicker bowlers, with the odd ball seaming or stopping on the batsman or kicking up awkwardly. The old ball was swinging too, and Anderson had exploited this expertly to remove Ajinkya Rahane with what turned out to be the last ball before lunch.
Twelve overs after Pant's entry, Rohit Sharma was out for 49 off 144 balls. He faced 90 balls from England's fast bowlers and scored 19 runs off them. This was a batsman who came into this game with a series strike rate of 80.98 against fast bowling. The conditions clearly weren't made for flat-bat drives through the covers. Not just yet, anyway. Pant would have to bide his time. He'd have to take 28 balls to get into double figures.
But there were clear incentives in front of him.
England had picked only four bowlers, and one of them, Ben Stokes, was an allrounder who had only bowled 15 overs across the first three Tests. They weren't trusting one of their two spinners, Dom Bess, to bowl a proper bowler's share of overs.
Pant came to the crease in the 26th over of the morning. Anderson was in his seventh over of the day. Stokes had bowled 10 already. Jack Leach, England's main spinner, had bowled seven. Bess had only bowled two.
Pant had arrived at a delicate moment for India. But he had also arrived at a moment when England's meagre resources were beginning to get stretched, in the hottest stretch of a 38-degree day in Ahmedabad.
Those resources had done exceptionally well to restrict India to 56 for 3 in the first 25.5 overs of the day. But there were two more sessions to go, and six more wickets to take, against an India line-up featuring three spin-bowling allrounders at Nos. 7, 8 and 9.
By the time England got their next breakthrough, Rohit trapped in front by Stokes' reverse-swing, they had used up five more overs from Anderson, and brought Stokes on for another spell. They hadn't yet bowled Leach at Pant, possibly fearing the damage he could do against left-arm spin. So while Pant had to survive a nervy early period against Anderson, he only had to face Bess - who struggled all day to find his length - and the part-time offspin of Joe Root from the other end.
By the time India were six down, Stokes had bowled 15 overs in the day, and Pant had moved to 30. The second new ball was 21.5 overs away, which meant at least another hour's rest for the quicks.
This was where India's batting depth came to the fore. It was like India's 2018 tour of England in reverse. The visitors had worked their socks off to get into a position of strength, but the home team's batting simply wouldn't end. For Sam Curran, substitute Washington Sundar. Another left-hand batsman, blessed with the same crisp timing and an even sounder technique.
Sundar and Pant came together with India trailing by 59, but you wouldn't have guessed it looking at the tone of the game during the early part of their partnership. Bess and Root sent down the first five overs after tea, with plenty of protection on the boundary when Pant was on strike. This was understandable, but it allowed him to get off strike whenever he wished to. He only faced seven balls in those five overs, allowing Sundar to get his eye in against England's two least threatening bowlers.
By the time Leach returned to the attack, the ball was 67 overs old, and was no longer zipping off the track like it had done during his first spell of the day. By the time a tired Stokes returned with five overs to go for the new ball, India's deficit was down to nine runs. Sundar was batting on 24, and Pant on 55, off 90 balls.
Pant would go on to score 46 off his next 28 balls. He was done waiting and watching. He was done respecting the bowling, the situation, and his elders.

Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo