Rishabh Pant's 18-ball fifty powered India to victory against Nepal in the ongoing Under-19 Cricket World Cup in Bangladesh, breaking the record for the fastest fifty in U-19 ODI cricket by one delivery.
Pant slammed seven fours and two sixes en route to his half-century. He ended the match with 78 runs in 24 balls (nine fours and five sixes) as India chased down a 170-run target with 179 balls to spare. The win meant India reached the quarterfinals which will be played on 6th February.
Here's all you need to know about a potential star of the future:
Had bigger records in sight: Pant was actually aiming for the fastest century. In fact, if he would have broken it by seven deliveries had he kept going at the strike-rate he had before he got out (SR: 325). Pakistan's Kamran Ghulam holds that honour (100 off 53 balls).
“I wanted to make the record for the fastest century. At the start I did not know about the record. Later it came to my mind, and then I was going for it," Pant was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.
IPL hopes: Pant said in the post-match press conference that he hoped to be picked up by any franchise. He said that signing for an IPL team is 'always on the mind' but 'not during the match'.
Pant's teammate Sarfaraz Khan can help him understand the pressures. Khan, who is also in the Indian squad at the U19 World Cup, played a couple of impressive knocks for Royal Challengers Bangalore in IPL 8.
Coached by and played with the big names: Pant's mentor and coach is Tarak Sinha, the man who also helped another left-hander Shikhar Dhawan hone his skills. Pant religiously listens to Sinha, and moved from Roorkee to Delhi to Rajasthan and back to Delhi on his advice.
Pant scored 28 and 57 on his first-class debut (Delhi vs Bengal in October 2015) -- and opened with former U-19 skipper Unmukt Chand in the second innings. Now he's India's U-19 opener. He's also shared the dressing room with Dhawan during the Vijay Hazare Trophy.
"They all (Delhi players) said take your time when you play. There is no hurry. Ever since this two new ball rules, it's a bit difficult for the openers. You have to see off the shine on the ball. Because it seams from both ends. So, if you have made 40-45 runs in the powerplay, it's good. This what Shikhar bhaiya told me," Rishabh told Cricbuzz in an interview.
Was thrown out of an academy: As Pant chased his dream from one city to another, he met dejection as well. While there is not much explanation of what exactly happened, Pant was not given the break he deserved at the Rajasthan Cricket Association Academy after Sinha left his post there. An ESPNCricinfo report says: Pant was ousted from Rajasthan for being an "outsider".
Is set for the future: Pant is also wicket-keeper and vice-captain of the India U-19 team. If he can bat in a swashbuckling manner and keep as well, then you know who's footsteps he's following.
Feature Image source: PTI