New Delhi, Mar 26 (PTI) Competition can rear its ugly head when places in the playing eleven are at premium but it can be beautiful when two players purportedly fighting for the same slot complement each other just like KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant showed on Friday.
Had Shreyas Iyer not dislocated his shoulder, Rahul would have kept wickets and Pant would have dug his heels in the dug-out, waiting for his next chance in the 50-over format.
But forces conjured and brought them together for just under 13 overs and they entertained by skinning cat in their own way.
They showed that diametrically opposite styles of batting could be breathtakingly beautiful.
It was a fusion of Rahul's classical style with Pant's unorthodox daredevilry as they matched stroke for stroke in their own unique ways.
Come to think of it, Rahul as India's white ball keeper was beginning to be cast in stone before the series against Australia Down Under till Pant had those two unforgettable 'fifth days' in Sydney and Brisbane which turned the tide.
He was now back in the mix and even if Rahul shuts out the 'outside noise' and he did admit on the eve of this game that with this level of competition, taking one's place for granted is a no-go zone.
For Pant, it was about the perception which preceded him in white ball format but what we are now seeing is a better version waiting for the best one.
The 'careless Rishabh' has now become 'responsible and fearless Rishabh'.
In this backdrop, the duo came together and not for once tried to change their natural games which often happens in the face of competition.
Rahul played the way he knows best and Rishabh still knows only one way to play.
If Rahul danced down the track to loft Adil Rashid for a straight six, Pant got on one knee and muscled the same bowler to the Cow Corner stands.
If Rahul showed his full bat face with a pronounced back-lift, Pant with his unbelievably powerful wrists would whip Ben Stokes over square leg and just disdainfully dispatch even over long on.
As Rahul would shift his balance to pull Reece Topley for boundary, Pant would ride on Sam Curran senior's full toss to guide it over third man for a six.
Rahul has had criticism flying thick and fast at him for four failures in T20 Internationals and his 'shut the noise' celebration was a powerful portrayal of his state of mind.
Pant has walked that route for far too long to know how insane it can get. He had been in his 'bubble' long before the bio-bubble was in vogue.
On Friday, one thing was crystal clear.
True that Team India has plenty of choices but the 2 R's can co-exist in the playing XI without one being pitted against other. PTI KHS BS BS