Rishabh Pant is already being tipped as MS Dhoni's successor in limited-overs cricket for India    AFP
Rishabh Pant is already being tipped as MS Dhoni’s successor in limited-overs cricket for India AFP

Rishabh Pant has grown in stature over the past one year. The youngster has slammed bowlers all over the park and also earned the national cap. It is not just talent that makes the 19-year-old special but what stands out is his mental strength. Pant lost his father Rajendra Pant on the eve of IPL 10 but he made it back on April 8 to play Delhi Daredevils’ (DD) opening game against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB). He was back after attending the funeral, slammed a 36-ball 57, and almost guided DD to a win.

In a way, he emulated the likes of Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli, who had put personal tragedies behind team’s cause in the past. The first ball that Pant faced, he danced down the track and deposited it to the midwicket stand. Pant had to overcome a plethora of emotions to step on to the field. He got the courage thanks to his late father.

“It was emotionally the most difficult knock of my life, but my father wanted me to play cricket. He had a dream that I should play for India for a long time. That’s why I played the match. He was the reason why I started to play cricket. I didn’t want to think about what happened, but I had to play the match. Somehow, I managed it,” Pant told Times of India.

Pant got support from his mother Saroj who insisted that the youngster ‘should not think about the tragedy’ and focus on cricket as that would make his father proud. “My family wants me to play for India. My mother told me: `Don’t think about the tragedy. Play cricket and make your father proud , but it wasn’t easy for me to go for the match,” added the 19-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman.

Though cricket has managed to help him focus away from the loss but the bereaved teenager admits this is a loss that cannot be forgotten nor he wants to forget it. Pant praised the DD staff for being supportive and giving him enough space.

Pant’s name is already doing rounds for a national spot for ICC Champions Trophy 2017. He may well sneak into the squad as the second wicketkeeper after MS Dhoni but the Delhi cricketer maintained that he wants to live in the present. “I don’t think about the future. I’m just looking to perform well in the IPL,” Pant signed off.