Rishabh Pant has made it a knack of scoring big knocks under pressure. He did it twice last month against Australia, once against England last month and he dished out another on Friday, against England, in the fourth and final Test at the Narendra Modi Stadium en route to his maiden home Test century.
His previous best at home has been three scores of 90s - 92, 92 (both against West Indies in 2018), and 91 (against England in Chennai in 2021). With the century on day 2 of the final tie against England, Pant now has three Test centuries to his name - his maiden came against England t the Oval in 2018 (114) and his second, an unbeaten 159, came in Sydney against Australia in January 2019.
Pant walked in when India were four down for 80 in the 38th over. With a settled Rohit Sharma by his side, the pair eased to a 41-run stand before Ben Stokes struck another, at the stroke of drinks break as the opener departed for one short of his half-century. Jack Leach then had Ravichandran Ashwin caught at short mid-wicket. England's fightback looked great in the second session, but could have been greater had umpire Nitin Menon raised his finger when Dom Bess trapped Pant in front of leg stump. But the wicketkeeper-batsman went to an unbeaten 36 off 62.
Post tea break, Pant and Washington Sundar whittled down that first-innings lead, smashing Dom Bess, whom Joe Root had entrusted to unsettle the partnership. With the offie giving away 19 in his four-over spell, Root went back to Jack Leach, but Pant, sensing England's nervy start in the final session, cashed on it to notch up his third fifty-plus score in the series, reaching the mark off 82 deliveries with a nudge through mid-on.
Root then turned to Stokes, nothing mattered to Pant who looked determined to pile more pressure on the visitors before they the arrival of the second new ball. He toped-edged a widish ball from Stokes over the slips for a boundary and then levelled the scores with another off the all-rounder with a pull over mid-wicket. Pant then consolidated the lead with two consecutive fours off Root, one swept towards cow corner and other to deep square leg.
England now relied on the new nut to crack Pant, but James Anderson was left utterly astonished as the youngster dismantled his efforts with a flurry of boundaries one of which included a reverse-scoop shot over the slip cordon. He eventually reached his triple-figure mark with a six against Root.
Only Adam Gilchrist (81.95) has a higher batting strike rate than Pant (71.47) among wicketkeeper-batsman who have at least scored 1000 runs in Tests. And his average of 45.26 is only bettered by AB de Villiers (57.41), Andy Flower (53.70) and Gilchrist (47.60). Pant is also the only second wicketkeeper-batsman after Gilchrist to have a century each in England, Australia and India.