Rishabh Pant sticks to his signature attacking manner irrespective of the format. But off the field, the maverick wicketkeeper-batter is his usual chirpy self. Pant, who is playing for Leicestershire in the ongoing warm-up game against India, won hearts with his special gesture towards kids at the Uptonsteel Cricket Ground. Pant was busy signing autographs and taking a group picture during the break. (Also Read | Bizarre scenes in warm-up game as Jadeja, Iyer bat twice despite being dismissed; Pujara plays for both sides)
Notably, the ground announcer said Indian players won’t sign autographs or take selfies with fans during the warm-up game in Grace Road, Leicester. But Pant had other plans. The kids at the venue had a smile stretching ear-to-ear in response to Pant’s antics.
Pant notched up a half-century while batting for the hosts in the warm-up game. He teamed up with Rishi Patel as the pair took the team’s total beyond the triple-figure mark. The 58-run partnership between Pant and Patel was broken as Mohammed Shami struck for the third time to dismiss Patel at 34.
Pant then got support from Roman Walker, who put on a 70-run partnership with the Indian. Pant was eventually sent back by Ravindra Jadeja for 76. His knock comprised 14 fours and one six.
Pant, who led the side in the five-match series against South Africa that ended in a 2-2 stalemate, managed only 58 runs in the five innings which led to questions being raised about his place in the T20 side. But head coach Rahul Dravid was effusive in praise for the “young” player.
“To bring a team back from 0-2 down and to level it at 2-2 and give us a chance to win was good. Captaincy is not about wins and losses only. He (Pant) is a young captain, growing as a leader. It is too early to judge him and you don’t want to do that after one series,” said Dravid during the post-match press conference.
Talking about the warm-up game, the Indian team took a handsome 366-run lead on third day, thanks to Shreyas Iyer, Virat Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja scoring brilliant half-centuries. Shreyas, who was dismissed for zero in the first innings, played spectacular innings of 62 runs in 89 balls. Kohli came in to bat at the No. 7 spot and scored 67 runs, during which he smashed 5 fours and two sixes.
At stumps on the third day, India had achieved 364 runs for the loss of 7 wickets and Ravindra Jadeja was unbeaten at 56 and Mohammad Siraj playing on 1 run at the crease.
For Leicestershire, Navdeep Saini took three wickets while Kamlesh Nagarkoti bagged two and Ravi Sai Kishore, Jasprit Bumrah and Bill Davis got one wicket each.