India may not have produced the start it was looking for in its T20 series against England, losing game one by eight wickets, but an incredible shot from Rishabh Pant gave the home fans at least one reason to cheer.
Facing Jofra Archer, England’s fastest and most fearsome bowler, Pant sent the new ball for six with an unbelievable reverse lap.
Commentators were stunned by the audacity of Pant’s shot, which even left Archer smiling in disbelief.
“Oh well, well, well. This is Rishabh Pant! Stop what you’re doing, just come and watch,” Harsha Bhogle shouted from the commentary box.
“If a lot of you are gasping at home, all I can tell you is that three of us with the microphone in hand (are) doing the same.”
The cricket world was in awe, taking to social media to heap praise on Pant’s freakish feat.
Kevin Pietersen, Yuvraj Singh and VVS Laxman were among those to laud his ridiculous shot.
England legend Pietersen tweeted: “Holy smokes! Pant has just played the greatest shot that’s ever been played in cricket. Reverse sweeping/lifting Archer with a brand new white ball at 90mph (145km/h) for 6.”
Indian great Laxman wrote: “What an incredible shot from @RishabhPant17.”
Countryman Singh added: “This is the new generation!! Absolutely fearless! Reverse sweep or shot I don’t know what to call it! But @RishabhPant17 hats off to you to hit a fast bowler like that! Game on!!”
English sports writer Paul Newman was just as perplexed. “How does Rishabh Pant do that?? Especially to a bowler of Jofra Archer’s pace,” he tweeted.
England won the toss in Ahmedabad and elected to bowl first. Starting confidently, the Brits dismissed Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul and captain Virat Kohli for a total of five runs between them.
Ben Stokes eventually sent Pant packing for 21, courtesy of a Jonny Bairstow catch in the deep. A valiant effort from Shreyas Iyer (67) got the locals up to a score of 7/124 from their 20 overs, but England had no trouble chasing the target down with 27 balls to spare.
Jason Roy did the damage up front with a 32-ball 49, while Dawid Malan (24 not out) and Bairstow (26 not out) saw the visitors home.
India has the chance to redeem itself across four more white ball clashes. The next T20 is set for March 14.
In his post-match press conference, Iyer insisted his side won’t need to change its batting line-up heading into the second T20, despite a woeful performance from the top order.
“It will definitely not change because you see the batting line-up that we have and the power it has down the line,” he said.
“We really don’t have to change anything, to be honest. We have come with a plan and we need to execute it.”
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