"Will Remember For The Rest Of My Life": Rishabh Pant After Guiding India To Series Win vs England
Rishabh Pant scored 125* off 113 balls to help India beat England by five wickets in the series-deciding third ODI
India captain Rohit Sharma on Sunday acknowledged that there are "some solid guys" waiting in the wings but said his team will need to improve further moving ahead. Chasing 260 to win the series-deciding third ODI and claim the rubber, India reached their target with five wickets in hand and 47 balls to spare, thanks to Rishabh Pant's maiden century in the format and Hardik Pandya's all-round heroics. The India skipper said the side will look to focus on the bench strength.
"We've got some solid guys sitting on the bench who've been waiting to get a game. Want to create that bench strength (ahead of T20 World Cup).
"Injuries are bound to happen, have to manage workload, so need to build bench strength. Have got some solid guys who will get their opportunity in the West Indies," Rohit said at the post-match presentation ceremony.
He added, "Very pleased (with series win). We came here, wanted to achieve something as a group in white-ball, and we did. Moving forward there are things we need to improve but pleased with the effort." India thus won both the white-ball series after losing the COVID-delayed rescheduled fifth Test.
"Came here, wanted to achieve something as a group in white ball. We were here last time and were beaten, I remember that. Not an easy place to come and win games." It was a good pitch to bat on, but England could not capitalise, and even India's top-order crumbled against left-arm seamer Reece Topley. But the duo of Pant and Hardik ensured the tourists emerged winners, and the skipper was full of praise for his young stars.
"It was a good pitch, but we do understand it's not going to be easy if we lose wickets upfront. Positive side of it, these guys haven't batted much in the middle overs. Today we got to see that with Hardik and Rishabh. At no point we felt they were panicking.
"They backed themselves and played cricketing shots," Rohit said.
Rohit admitted that the top-order, which also includes himself, got out to poor shots.
"To be honest, the wicket didn't have much. We played some not so good shots. Still back those guys (Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan) to come out good. (It was) one of those series where top order hasn't come to the party.
"Have got nothing more to say because I know the quality they bring to the team." Man-of-the-series Hardik, who bagged career-best figures of 4/24 besides making a scintillating 71, said he doesn't mind getting hit for sixes as long as he is picking up wickets. On the day, he also tasted success with the short ball. "I love short balls. Don't fancy people taking me on. Gets me into the game. Don't mind getting hit for six sixes also if I can get a wicket.
"I always feel I'm shameless as a bowler. Don't care how far I get hit," Hardik said.
Regarding Pant, he said, "We all know what talent he has. Finally today he was playing the situation. The partnership changed the game for us. The way he finished the game was also special." Pant, who was named the Man-of-the-Match for his sublime 113-ball 125, hoped he would remember his first ODI hundred for the rest of his life.
"Hopefully I remember (this knock) for the rest of my life. I was focusing on one ball at a time when I was batting. When your team is under pressure and you bat like that .. something I aspire to do," Pant, who came in at 25 for two, said.
England skipper Jos Buttler said his team didn't bat well throughout the summer.
"I thought we were short (of runs). Needed a good start which we got actually (with the ball). Throughout the whole summer so far we haven't batted our best," Buttler said.