Legendary Indian spinner, Harbhajan Singh feels that India could have actually won the drawn Sydney Test against Australia had Rishabh Pant batted for a few more overs.
In India’s second innings, Pant was given a promotion over Hanuma Vihari. He came to bat at number 5 at the score of 102/3 while chasing an impossible-looking target of 407.
After biding time for about an hour – 7 runs from 36 balls – the left-hander broke his shackles and smashed Nathan Lyon for a boundary and a maximum. Pant didn’t look back once he decided to take on the Aussie bowlers. The southpaw was at his audacious best – not to forget he was battling with an elbow pain as well – as he launched a counter-attack.
Against a stronger match-up of Nathan Lyon, who would spin the ball away from him, Pant hammered the off-spinner for three maximums into the crowd, along with a flurry of boundaries to all the Aussie bowlers. The 23-year-old made look the target of 407, which once seemed insurmountable, as chasable and lit the glimmer of hope for the Indian fans.
Australians panicked when Pant was playing: Harbhajan Singh
Pant fell 3 runs short of his century, moreover, he got out at the total of 250 – 157 still short of the target – as he looked to smash Lyon again. However, this time the off-spinner dished a wider delivery which Pant couldn’t connect and Pat Cummins took a safe catch at point.
After Cheteshwar Pujara’s wicket, Hanuma Vihari and Ravichandran Ashwin, both of whom were injured, drew the game, surviving for more than a session as India finished the fourth innings at 334/5 – 73 short of the target. Hence, Harbhajan Singh opines that had Pant stayed on the crease for longer, the visitors stand a chance to win the game.
Bhajji lauds Pant’s passion and strength to play such an innings after having an injured elbow. The veteran spinner also observed that the Australians were panicking and went defensive when Pant was batting as the left-hander was on his way to winning the game for India.
“Rishabh Pant is not in the ODI squad, T20I squad which is his prime game. Today he has shown that despite being injured he has the passion and power to turn the game in his team’s favour,” Harbhajan Singh told Aaj Tak.
“India could have won the match had he batted for a few more overs. Shane Warne was right as Australians were in defensive mode, their players were panicking when Pant was on the crease,” Harbhajan Singh added.