The good-humoured on-field banter between Rishabh Pant and Tim Paine during the ongoing Border-Gavaskar Trophy has been lapped up by television audiences, and the Indian keeper-batsman has described it as a way of maintaing intensity during long hours on the field.
The official broadcasters of the four-Test India-Australia series, Fox Cricket, have kept the stump microphone on through the contest, and some interesting exchanges have been recorded between the rival wicketkeepers.
Pant, who hit a record-breaking century on Day 2 of the Sydney Test, had seen a picture of himself holding Paine's son along with the Australian captain's wife Bonnie go viral after the “babysitter” banter between the duo.
"“That (banter) is also one of the methods to keep yourself positive and to keep yourself busy. When you are fielding for a long time, everyone’s body does get tired but you need to find a way to keep yourself positive and stay concentrated. My method is this, and it works for me, and that’s why I am doing it.”" - Rishabh Pant
"As a player, I don't think about any of these things (stump microphone being turned up). Whatever I feel like at that moment, I say it. That's the only way," he added.
The Pant-Paine sledging chronicle had begun during the Melbourne Test when Pant was batting.
Paine decided to take a barb at the Indian 'keeper: “Big MS (Dhoni) is back in the one-day squad too, we might get him (Pant) down to the (Hobart) Hurricanes we need a batter. Fancy that, Pantsy? Extend your little Aussie holiday. Beautiful town Hobart too, I'll get you a nice apartment on the waterfront. (I'll) have him over for dinner. Can you babysit? I'll take the wife to the movies one night and you'll look after the kids,” Paine was heard saying on the stump mic.
The very next day, Pant was heard speaking to Mayank Agarwal when Paine came to the crease. “We got a special guest today. Have you ever heard of a temporary captain, ever, Mayank?” said Pant, referring to the absence of banned former skipper Steve Smith.
The 'interesting' method of concentration clearly paid off for the 21-year-old on Friday, 4 January, as he broke a slew of records during his unbeaten 159, powering India to a massive first innings total of 622/7d.
Pant, who became the first Indian 'keeper to hit a Test hundred on Australian soil, admitted to feeling nervous in the 90s, but said that the presence of "proper batsmen" at the other end helped him bat freely.
"I don't think anything changed from my side. The main thing was that I was playing with a batsman (Jadeja) this time. If I am batting with the tail, I have to think differently because most of the time I have to score the runs."
"To be honest, I was a little nervous, because in India when we were playing West Indies, in the last two innings, I got out on 92 and 92. So I was scared slightly but I got through that phase quickly," he added.
Pant also credited his batting success to the complete "freedom to express" himself that has been granted to him by the team management.
"The best part of my batting is that everyone in the team has given me freedom to express myself. Every time when I go to bat, I just enjoy myself, that's the only thing I love to do," said Pant.
(With inputs from PTI)
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