The fact that India managed to get a draw from the Sydney Test was both inspiring and a massive morale booster for the side going into the final Test in Brisbane. A loss in the third Test would have seen India enter the Gabba – a venue they have never fared well in in past encounters – needing a win to draw the series. As of now, even a draw at The Gabba will be enough to see them retain the Border-Gavaskar series, an impressive feat given how much better the current Australian side are than the side who lost the home series 2-1 in 2018-19.
However, India could have won the Test match and that was largely down to Rishabh Pant’s counterattacking 97 that gave the visitors a glimmer of hope.
Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting praised the decision to send Pant up the order and push for a win instead of opting to go for the conservative option in Hanuma Vihari.
“Very good proactive captaincy or coaching for sending Rishabh up. For India to stay in with a chance to win, they needed to do that. He had a little bit of luck with Paine putting him down a couple of times,” Ponting said.
“It’s not all crash and bang with him, there is a lot of skill involved, and he is proper test match batsman to the point today where a lot of the commentators were saying can he play as a batsman in the middle order and have Saha keep.”
Ponting, who coaches Pant in the IPL in the capacity of head coach of the Delhi Capitals, further pointed out that performances like this will help the youngster cement himself as India’s first-choice wicketkeeper for years to come.
“It was a masterstroke to put him up there, but he still got to play that innings, and he did it. He does it in his own way; he does it with a bit of swagger and confidence,” Ponting added.
“Taking on Lyon like he did, even with fielders out says he backs himself and his skillset. I said at the start of the series that there is a chance for him to cement himself as India’s keeper-batsman for the next 10-12 years and innings like today will go a long way in helping that.”