Rishabh Pant didn't take the field for the entirety of Australia's second innings after suffering from an elbow injury while batting on Day 3 of the third Test in Sydney. Naturally, it surprised the viewers when he was sent to bat at no.5 in India's 407-run chase on the final day of the game.
The wicketkeeper-batsman, then, produced an absolute masterclass in aggressive batting, while visibly being in discomfort with the elbow on occasions. The 23-year-old batsman repeated the Sydney exploits of 2018, when he remained unbeaten on 159, as he hit 12 fours and three sixes, but missed his century by merely three runs.
Pant began his innings slowly, almost as if being wary of opening his arms due to the injury. Ajinkya Rahane had just been dismissed on 4 and India also needed a long partnership to save the Test.
Arriving in the 36th over of the Indian innings, Pant took the defensive approach before breaking the shackles in the 48th, stepping out on Nathan Lyon's delivery to put the ball over mid-on. On the very next delivery, he attempted a similar shot but generated more power - enough to clear the fence for a six.
The wicketkeeper-batsman found confidence as his pace of run-scoring increased significantly after the two hits. From 5 off 33 deliveries before Lyon's over, Pant raced to his next 45 runs off just 31 balls, bringing his third Test half-century.
They say that luck favors the brave, and so it did, as Pant was dropped twice of Lyon's bowling. He took full advantage of the missed chances, as he accumulated 53 from his 97 runs off the spinner.
However, Lyon also became his final nemesis in the innings as the wicketkeeper-batsman eventually handed a catch to Pat Cummins as backward point. Aiming to reach the three-figure mark with a glory hit, Pant failed to get the timing right as he wanted to clear the field on the off-side.
Even as his innings met an anti-climactic end, Pant walked off to a standing ovation at the Sydney Cricket Ground.