Over the last three decades, India have always had a talismanic batter that they could rely on to pull the team out of the fire. Indeed, when the heat was turned up in recent times and wickets were tumbling around them, out to the crease strolled either Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni, or Virat Kohli to rescue India.
It should be said that the consistency of these three greats perhaps lulled Indian cricket fans into a false sense of security with supporters under the impression that a hero would invariably arrive when India were, for all intents and purposes, about to fall apart.
The truth, however, is that no one can go on forever as we have witnessed after the retirements of both Sachin Tendulkar and MS Dhoni.
Equally, Virat Kohli has been great in his own right and severed India with distinction over the last 10 years but even if the New Delhi-born superstar is still active in all three formats, it is evident that the end is getting closer for the batter who will be 34 in November. Notably, stepping down as Test captain in 2022 was yet another indication that Virat Kohli’s time is almost up.
The next in line?
With this being the case, opposition fans may be tempted to think that India are in danger of entering a new era where they are without a batsman who is able to fend off the attack and in turn, put the pressure back onto the opposition.
In reality, however, the time has come for India to begin building their plans around the next natural successor, Rishabh Pant, who first arrived on the international scene in 2019. The 24-year-old who hails from Roorkee has, at times, been seen as too erratic to successfully take on the mantle of being India’s saviour, but any talk of Rishabh Pant being a loose cannon has surely been put to bed after his heroics in England over this summer.
The first of many for Rishabh Pant? pic.twitter.com/fKMuj55lYT
— ESPNcricinfo (@ESPNcricinfo) July 18, 2022
In particular, Pant came of age against England in the final ODI after the left-hander smashed his maiden century in the 50-over arena. At the end of it, Pant carried his bat after registering 125 off just 113 balls to guide India to victory. It was a mesmerizing effort and like his predecessors who went before him, Pant arrived at the wicket with India in all sorts of trouble at 38/3 while chasing 260.
With India on the ropes, Rishabh Pant began to take on the English attack and turn the game back in India’s favour courtesy of some ruthless batting and sensational timing. In what seemed like the blink of an eye, Pant had taken his team from a potentially disastrous position early on before reverse sweeping the winning runs to ensure that India would win the match with 47 balls to spare.
“He’s a SUPERSTAR in the making, he really is!”
What a way to finish it off! Unreal from Rishabh Pant
India beat England by five wickets to win the ODI series 2-1! pic.twitter.com/G9NQJE4DXM
— Sky Sports Cricket (@SkyCricket) July 17, 2022
Rishabh Pant ascends to the throne
It was, undoubtedly, one of those knocks that will live long in the memory and perhaps even inspire India to begin shaping their red-and-white ball cricket teams around the belligerent left-hander.
In fact, now may well be the time to put the plan into action with the T20 World Cup only a few months away. Of course, you could argue that at 11/4 in the latest cricket online betting as of July 18, there is no need to fix what is not broken with India the current favourites to win the World Cup in Australia. There is a degree of logic to that idea with India currently being led competently by Rohit Sharma in the shortest format but then again, Pant doesn’t have to be made skipper in order to be effective.
At least, the current think tank can give the left-hander license to play his naturally aggressive game which has the potential to hand India the initiative in the contest.
Welcome to The Big Time, Rishabh Pant #T20WorldCup pic.twitter.com/ZUSK63ssFZ
— T20 World Cup (@T20WorldCup) July 10, 2022
This leadership debate can, of course, be had again in the future but for now, Pant can thrive on this side as he begins to shoulder the majority of the workload which will take the pressure off the likes of Virat Kohli, who may struggle to be in prime form for the World Cup after a difficult few seasons with bat in hand.
Ultimately, that’s less of a concern than it previously has been now that Rishabh Pant has stepped up to lead this Indian team forward by playing a brand of cricket that strikes fear into the heart of the opposition. Indeed, the future is now for India with Rishabh Pant set to take on of the most iconic roles in the game of cricket.