Millennium Post

Phenomenal Pant plots India's fight back with game-changing ton on Day 1

Phenomenal Pant plots Indias fight back with game-changing ton on Day 1

Birmingham: Rishabh Pant played a knock for the ages to turn the tables on England and take India to an imposing 338 for seven on a rain-hit day one of the rescheduled fifth Test here on Friday.

At 98 for five, India were staring down the barrel but Pant (146 off 111 balls) scripted a remarkable turnaround in the company of Ravindra Jadeja (83 batting off 163) as the duo shared a match changing 222-run stand off 239 balls.

Pant, who rendered the England bowlers helpless, hammered 20 boundaries and four sixes, in his awe-inspiring effort.

The rain in the morning meant only 73 overs could be bowled on the opening day.

Having faced criticism for his struggles in white-ball cricket recently, Pant continued his love affair with the red-ball format by smashing his fifth century overall and fourth in overseas conditions.

The conditions and match situation was against him but he once again thrived on it to leave the opposition frustrated.

As only he could, he danced down the track against the great James Anderson, reverse scooped him but also played conventional strokes, including the straight drives and back foot punches, enroute to the fastest hundred (89 balls) by an Indian wicketkeeper.

In the nervous 90s, he fell on the ground while going aerial over Jack Leach but that still fetched him a four before reaching three figures in the following over.

Stokes fancied Leach's chances against Pant but the ploy failed miserably as the southpaw collected boundaries off the left-arm spinner at will. Leach ended up with day's figures of 0/71 in nine overs. Pant went ballistic in what happened to be Leach's last over of the day, clobbering him two sixes and as many fours.

With a couple of hundreds in England, one each in Australia and South Africa, Pant has already walked into the list of the finest wicketkeeper-batters to have come out of India.

The 24-year-old's epic innings came to an end towards close of play with part-timer Joe Root providing the much needed breakthrough.

Jadeja, who enjoyed Pant's audacious stroke from the other end, also played a major role in India's remarkable recovery and produced some delightful drives on the way.

After overs were lost in the first two sessions due to rain, the evening session was played in bright sunshine.

Pant and Jadeja's counter-attacking partnership had helped India recover to 174 for five at tea after the visitors lost half their side shortly after lunch.

Rain delayed the start of the second session by an hour and England were all over India soon after play resumed.

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