Rishabh Pant has made the leap from Delhi University to Delhi Capitals captain and now looks determined to stay in the India national team setup.
The former Sri Venkateswara College pupil has enjoyed a brilliant six months on the field as his progress hit top gear.
Pant had been facing stiff competition for the India gloves but has quickly brushed aside any doubts thanks to some brilliant displays with the bat.
India now have a chance to lift the first World Test Championship trophy in England this summer and Pant has almost guaranteed his place in the starting line-up.
Virat Kohli’s men are considered the 2.0 favourites with Betfair and other cricket betting sites for the inaugural win.
Here we take a look at how Pant has been able to consolidate his role within the India side in recent months.
Big Impact in Australia
One huge factor that has made Pant India’s main man behind the stumps recently has been his form when representing his country.
India landed a brilliant and thrilling series success Down Under in December 2020 and January 2021, with Pant playing a major part in claiming the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
A superb 2-1 victory in the four-game series was a big moment for Pant as well as the touring Indian team that was without regular skipper Virat Kohli.
Wicketkeeping rival Wriddhiman Saha was selected ahead of Pant for the first Test as India slipped to an eight-wicket loss in Adelaide.
India had other issues to deal with as more and more injuries hit the squad before Kohli headed home to be with his pregnant wife.
However, Pant came in for the vital second Test in Melbourne and hasn’t looked back.
India, with the 23-year-old left-hander back behind the stumps, bagged an eight-wicket win of their own to level the series.
Pant helped India draw the third Test in Sydney with a sublime 97 in the second innings to remind everyone how capable he is with the bat in hand.
If that wasn’t enough to consolidate Pant’s place in the side, the way he followed it up in the deciding Test certainly was.
India pulled off an overall victory by dishing out Australia’s first defeat at the Gabba in three decades.
Pant stunned Brisbane with an unbeaten 89 as the wicketkeeper-batsman knocked off the runs on the final day to hand his country a historic win.
Speaking after the series success, Pant said: “This is one of the biggest moments of my life now.
“It’s been a dream series. The team management always back me and tells me ‘you are a match-winner’ and I keep thinking every day that I want to win matches for India and I did it today.”
More Runs against England
Despite the Delhi star also improving markedly with the gloves, it is his form with the bat that is doing much of the work to keep any rivals at bay.
Pant maintained his form back on home soil when England visited three weeks later.
He smashed 91 off 88 balls in the first Test after taking a particular liking to spinner Jack Leach. That wasn’t enough to give his side the win but again quashed any talk of others getting a chance to shine in his place.
More runs flowed in the fourth and final clash of the series when the powerful hitter bludgeoned a 118-ball century in the first innings to set up a convincing 3-1 overall victory.
The fact Pant has now also cut out a few errors behind the stumps only strengthens his position in the national side.
Pant Stars in the IPL
It is not just his improvement in the longest format that has been noticed by selectors recently.
Pant continues to showcase his skills in the shortest form of the game as well, especially when playing for Delhi Capitals.
His recent efforts in the Indian Premier League have only bolstered his chances of prolonged international recognition.
Pant made 343 runs in the 2020 edition of the IPL in the United Arab Emirates as Delhi missed out on glory when suffering final heartache at the hands of Mumbai Indians.
Handed Capitals Captaincy
With regular DC skipper Shreyas Iyer suffering an injury ahead of the 2021 tournament, Pant was handed the captain’s role.
It was a call that highlights just how far he has come over the last year.
That faith in his leadership abilities from Delhi will only enhance his chances of more game time for India in white-ball cricket as well as red.
The decision to back Pant looked to be bearing fruit as Delhi charged to the top of the IPL table before the tournament was hit by a Covid-enforced postponement.
Their captain had already hit two half-centuries and had his franchise dreaming of a first IPL title.
That will still be a tough task when the IPL does return, but those recent showings on both the domestic and international stage have clearly cemented Pant’s place among India’s top talents.