Young wicket-keeper batsman Rishabh Pant has credited India 'A' stint in England this summer for his impressive showing on Test debut, saying it helped him to cope with the pace and bounce at Trent Bridge.
The 20-year-old made a confident start to his Test career at Trent Bridge, scoring an attacking 24 in the first innings and then taking seven catches, the latter a record for Indian keeping debutante.
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"Keeping in England is always difficult because the ball wobbles a lot behind the wicket. The thing is that I have been playing India-A cricket since last two-and-a-half months in England, so it has been helpful for me," Pant said after India beat England by 203 runs in the third Test.
"I am practising in the nets on how to deal with that and it is working now," added Pant, who played for India A against England Lions and West Indies A before being named in the Test squad.
During his debut Test, Pant spilled a few chances, particularly against Jasprit Bumrah, but he said it was owing to the angle that the pacer creates at time of delivery.
"It is a big challenge, but the thing is that when Bumrah bowls, he bowls with a different angle. So, sometimes we react to it. That day I reacted too much on that ball and the edge came off. I'm not saying that it was not too difficult a catch; I could have pulled it off," he said.
"As a keeper, you have to wait for the outside edge. That is the only thing I can do, and that is what I have learnt after that thing. I am going to wait for the outside edge. That is the only solution."
On his Test debut, Pant said: "It is a great experience, actually. I have played with all the people (team members) in IPL and domestic cricket but when you play for the country, it is a different feeling. It was a dream for me to play Test cricket."
More than his skill behind the wickets, India needed solidity and gumption in batting as Dinesh Karthik was struggling to stay long at the wicket. Pant, who scored crucial 24 in the first innings, showed maturity in countering the English attack when India lost their way late on day one.
The standout moment for Pant came when he smacked Adil Rashid for a six off the second ball that he faced in Test cricket.
"I was nervous. Everyone is nervous when they play their first match. When I see the ball I don't think too much, just see the ball and react to it. That is what happened. I was just playing normal cricket - that is all," he said.
It has been a heady rise for the youngster from Roorkee. Making waves in Delhi's domestic circuit, then scoring big runs in Ranji Trophy, garnering eyeballs in the IPL and then performing at the international stage.
He credited his time as Delhi limited-overs' captain, while also attributing his meteoric rise to India-A coach Rahul Dravid and his childhood coach Tarak Sinha.
"It helps a lot as captain because you have to take the responsibility for the team as well, playing IPL also helps you a lot. Everyone in the team supports you and you perform, then it builds your confidence. Then you watch players who are around you and learn. All these factors have been very helpful (in my career growth)," Pant said.
"It has been a really good experience because starting from zero is not easy. But I started from zero. There is a struggle in everyone's life, but you realise that if you work hard with dedication to anything, you will definitely achieve the goal.
"I'm very thankful to Rahul Dravid sir, and also my coach, who has seen me from my childhood Tarak Sinha. He has helped me at every point in my life. For my technique, everything, the credit goes to Tarak Sinha sir.