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Wednesday, September 27, 2023

T20 WC: Pant eager to take on Pakistan in Melbourne


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Melbourne: India batter Rishabh Pant has admitted there is nothing better than taking on Pakistan on the big stage and the left-hander is hoping to get the chance to do so once more when the arch-rivals meet at the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup on Sunday.

The next chapter in India’s ongoing rivalry against Pakistan will be written at the MCG on Sunday as both sides get their ICC Men’s T20 World Cup campaign underway with a crucial match-up in front a crowd that is expected to be close to the capacity of 100,000.

While Pant is seemingly in a head-to-head battle with veteran Dinesh Karthik for the wicketkeeping role in India’s XI, the 25-year-old could still feature as a specialist batter if selectors opt to bolster their middle-order for the match.

Pant experienced the feeling of taking on Pakistan at a T20 World Cup when the two teams met at last year’s event in Dubai, and one of the many rising stars of India cricket said nothing comes close to the experience of taking the field against their biggest rival.

“It’s always special playing against Pakistan because there is a special hype around that match as always,” ICC quoted Pant.

“There are so much emotions involved, not only for us, but the fans and everyone.

“It’s a different kind of feeling, a different kind of ambience when you go on to the field and when you take on the field, you see people cheering here and there.

“It’s a different atmosphere and when we were singing our national anthem, I actually get goosebumps.”

Last year’s clash at the T20 World Cup was as one-sided as cricket contests get, with Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam successfully chasing down India’s score of 151/7 without loss to gift Pakistan a comprehensive 10-wicket triumph.

While the match was quickly erased from the memory of many India players and fans, Pant still has fond recollections of the game following his 53-run partnership with then skipper Virat Kohli and quickfire knock of 39.

“I fondly remember that I smacked Hasan Ali for two sixes in the same over,” Pant recalled.

“We were just trying to get the run rate up because we lost early wickets and we staged a partnership – me and Virat.

“We were increasing the run rate and I smacked him for two sixes with one hand… my special shot.”

Pant is hoping he will get the chance to rekindle his batting relationship with Kohli at the MCG this Sunday.

“He (Kohli) can actually teach you how to go through situations, which might help you in your cricket journey going forward, so it is nice batting with him as always,” Pant said.

“It’s good to have someone with a lot of experience batting with you because he can take you through how to take the game on and how to maintain that run-a-ball pressure kind of thing.”


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