One and a half years after making his international debut in the T20 format, Rishabh Pant played his first Test match for India at Nottingham against England last August.
Eight months later, he’s India’s number one pick behind the stumps in whites and is a favorite to take up the number four slot in the batting order for the ICC World Cup this summer.
Still only just 21 and having already achieved a handful of career milestones, Pant is now looking forward to the new IPL season to carry forward his form. The Quint caught up with the cricketer on the sidelines of an event for his sponsor, Adidas.
Your first Test match, a century in that series, a historic series win against England - you’ve had a lot happen in the last year. Now that you’re back from international duty, how does it feel? What’s your favorite memory?
It’s been a great feeling because I always wanted to play Test cricket for my country. Right now, I’m doing that so I’m happy. To play all three formats – it was like a dream come true for me. Playing for India, I’ll pick everything because I love playing for my country and once I do well on that level... specially that 159 knock in Australia was something special for me.
How great is it that you’re getting to play alongside someone like MS Dhoni, who’s a master behind the stumps? How much do you get to learn from him? Are you tired of people comparing the two of you?
I love playing with Mahi bhai because he’s been like a brother to me, a friend, everything. He teaches me everything, actually. I’ve learned a lot of things because I spend most of my time with him, when I’m in the team and he’s also there. There’s not just one thing I’ve learned from him, there are so many things. About comparisons, I’m not thinking in that fashion. I’m just focusing on how I can improve myself and how I can learn from a legend like Mahi bhai.
Do you hope to carry forward your international success into IPL as well? All these seasons Delhi has been saying they have a ‘young core’ but now with you, Prithvi, Shreyas all playing well - is this the season where you finally get the trophy home?
Every season when we start, we think the same thing. But right now, we have changed our name, the support staff is different, the positive energy which I’m getting is different. So I think this year, we’re going to rock! Delhi Capitals!
Between all the training and team meetings, you’ve taken time out to inaugurate this Adidas store in Gurgaon. How important is the support that this has given you? Even when you weren’t so successful?
It’s been a great journey with Adidas. As an athlete, we keep thinking how we can keep improving ourselves every day. That’s what Adidas also does. They have the quality and the comfort and the main thing about Adidas is innovation. They keep on innovating different things that’s what I love about Adidas.
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