Rishabh Pant etched his name on the record books by smashing a blistering 85 off 71 balls in India’s must-win encounter against South Africa at the Boland Park in Paarl. Pant registered the highest score by an India wicketkeeper in an ODI in South Africa. This comes a week after he had also become the first designated Indian stumper to register a Test hundred in South Africa. The previous highest score by a designated Indian wicketkeeper in the Rainbow Nation belonged to Rahul Dravid, who is currently the head coach of the side. Dravid had scored 77 in Durban back in 2001. MS Dhoni’s highest score in an ODI in South Africa is 65. He had done that in 2013 in Johannesburg.
The left-handed wicketkeeper-batter was looking set for a record hundred, which would have been his first in white-ball cricket but he fell for 85 while trying to hit left-arm wrist spinner Tabraiz Shamsi over the top. Pant came out to bat in a tricky situation when India had just lost Shikhar Dhawan (29) and former captain Virat Kohli (0) in quick succession after a solid opening stand. The attacking batter batted with positive intent and tackled the South African spinners Keshav Maharaj, Shamsi and Aiden Markram pretty well.
Pant hit 10 fours and two sixes in a blistering innings and formed an important partnership with stand-in skipper KL Rahul (55) to put India in a strong position. Pant and Rahul put together a 115-run stand for the third wicket.
This is a do or die fixture for India as they lost the first ODI at the same venue by 31 runs in this three-match series. India decided to play an unchanged XI despite the middle-order collapse in the series opener.
The third ODI is scheduled on January 23. India had lost the three-match Test series 1-2 despite taking a 1-0 lead.