Pant, the India wicket-keeper batsman, said that being ignored for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 was playing on his mind during his knock against Rajasthan Royals in the 2019 IPL on Monday, 22 April.
Pant, who hit an unbeaten 78 in just 36 balls, was instrumental in Delhi Capitals chasing down a competitive 191 with four balls to spare. Last week, Pant was left out of India’s World Cup squad in favor of the more experienced Dinesh Karthik as the back-up wicket-keeper.
“I am feeling lovely. To make your team win in an important match is a good feeling,” he said at the post-match presentation, before adding, “I won’t lie, the selection thought was running in my mind.”
However, the 21-year-old said that he tried to focus on the task at hand. Delhi had lost two wickets in back-to-back overs before Pant decisively turned the game in their favor. He now has 336 runs in 11 matches with a strike-rate of 163.10.
“I focused on my process, I trusted my process and it worked for me. I knew how the wicket was behaving and I took advantage of that. The most important thing for our team is that everyone knows their role and we try to keep it simple.”
Pant’s team-mate Prithvi Shaw, with whom he shared an innings-stabilizing 84-run stand for the third wicket, also praised the wicket-keeper, calling him the “biggest finisher of the game in T20 right now”.
Pant’s exclusion for the World Cup took many by surprise, including the Delhi coach Ricky Ponting, who said he expects the talented youngster to play at least three or four World Cups in his career.
“I was surprised when he was left out of the squad. I thought he’ll be in and I thought he’ll actually play in the starting XI,” Ponting had said. “I thought that someone like him batting at No. 4 or 5 in their side would have just been that sort of player who could have had that X factor about him that could have been the difference between India and some other teams in the World Cup.”
Like Ponting, Delhi advisor Sourav Ganguly was also all praise for the youngster. After the left-hander hit the winning runs, the former India captain rushed to the ground and lifted him up. Ganguly later called Pant a “wow” player in a tweet.
“After I finished off the match and was coming out, everyone was showering so much love,” Pant said. “It felt special when Sourav sir lifted me, it was a different experience.”
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