Rishabh Pant was one of the star performers for Team India in the recently-concluded Border-Gavaskar Trophy. The Indian wicketkeeper-basman played two splendid innings in the final two Tests of the series in Sydney and Brisbane, with the knock in the latter venue coming in a winning cause.
Pant, playing with his natural aggression, scored 97 and 89* respectively in the two innings. It surprised many when the 23-year-old was promoted at no.5 in the Sydney Test, and India's batting coach Vikram Rathour has now revealed that it was the outgoing Indian captain Virat Kohli, who suggested the idea after the first Test in Adelaide.
In a chat with off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin on his official YouTube channel, India's batting coach Vikram Rathour revealed that Kohli opined that Pant should bat at no.5 to keep up with the left-right batting combination in the lineup.
"It wasn't really my call, I cannot take the credit for this. This started after the first Test we lost," Rathour told Ashwin.
"Sridhar (fielding coach) had already spoken about how Virat and Ajinkya and all of us sat together before Virat left. That's where this was discussed, and it actually came from Virat, to be honest. That in case we're playing both the left-handers, it will be a good idea if Pant can be sent at No. 5 to keep the left-right combination.
"The intent was not to draw the Test, and till the point we can, we go for the runs. So that was the right time to send him at No. 5. All of us agreed, including Ravi bhai because he was big on left and right combinations. He believed for a long time that Australians don't bowl that well to left-handers so we need to bring in a leftie in there somewhere."
Rishabh Pant ended as India's highest run-scorer in the series despite playing a game less. In three matches, Pant scored 274 runs at an average of 68.50.
Post Kohli's departure after the first Test, Ajinkya Rahane led the Indian team to a glorious 2-1 win over the hosts, helping the side secure a second-successive Test series win on Aussie soil.