India’s Test series win against Australia in 2020/21 will always be remembered as this story of one of the best comebacks by a touring side. Team India witnessed a forgettable win in the opening game in Adelaide, being reduced to merely 36 in the second innings of the match and eventually conceding an 8-wicket defeat. Moreover, Virat Kohli, then-captain of the side, decided to leave the tour after the first game which added to the team’s woes.
However, under the captaincy of Ajinkya Rahane, India made a terrific comeback to win matches in Sydney and Brisbane to clinch the series 2-1. One of the key contributors to the side’s dominant comeback was the young wicket-keeper batter, Rishabh Pant. The youngster was excluded from the XI as Wriddhiman Saha was preferred, but the side’s stunning batting collapse forced the team management to include Pant from the second Test onwards.
Rishabh Pant amassed as many as 274 runs in three games including an unbeaten 89 at the Gabba in the second innings – a knock that steered India to a famous series win. R Sridhar, India’s then-fielding coach, has now revealed what he was doing alongside Pant when the side’s batting order was tumbling down like a pack of cards in Adelaide in the first Test.
During a recent chat with cricket.com, as per the quotes in Hindustan Times, R Sridhar said, “In the 2021 series against Australia, it was a toss-up between a better WK and a better batsman, and the vote went to Wriddhiman Saha. At that time, he was the best wicketkeeper in the world. But then, the 36-all-out happened. You won’t believe, on the morning of Day 3 when the wickets got tumbling, Pant and I were outside on the practice pitches, working on keeping.”
He further recalled, “We kept hearing these loud ‘oooohhhs’ and thunderous applauses at Adelaide Oval. And we were both like, ‘Oh I hope it’s not a wicket’. And after about 20 minutes, we aborted our keeping session and came running into the stadium to see what the score was. It was 21/7. Me and Rishabh were like, “What has just happened here?!’ We didn’t even see it live.”
R Sridhar said that in that moment, the team management was well aware of the fact that the southpaw in the lineup. He explained, “And then, we realized that we don’t have a left-hander in the top-6. We had all the right-handers. We wanted to bring a left-hander in the series and we got Rishabh Pant. He played from the 2nd Test and the rest, as they say, is history.”