Batting fortune has been hard to come by for Indian wicket-keepers overseas and the numbers those are reflected next to the gloves-men of India have been extremely consternating figures for the fans and the management as that literally compels India to walk into the field with a batsman less.
Despite spasmodic sparks of brilliance, the long-standing knocks outside Indian soil have been extremely rare from wicket-keepers, even from the legendary Dhoni. In the wake of Pant’s blistering 97 at Sydney that flipped the tide in India’s favour for a while before Ashwin and Vihari had to dig deep with irreparable injuries to save the blushes for India, we will be looking at three knocks from the Indian wicket-keepers with the highest number of runs outside India.
Rishabh Pant – 159 versus Australia
Despite being fairly new to the circuit of Test cricket, Pant has made himself a resonating name with two blistering centuries already. The youngster is extremely dynamic in nature and is a very animated lad behind the timbre. Also, he loves to give it back to the rabble-rousers, either with some boisterous lip-service or at times with the blade in his hands flailing wildly.
Yesterday was not the first time, Sydney witnessed Pant’s carnage. In fact, it was just a déjà vu of what the diminutive Indian wicket-keeper is capable of unleashing. After a solid start by Mayank Agarwal and Cheteshwar Pujara in the first innings, Pant and Jadeja provided the coup de grâce with some absolute merciless smacking of the cherry.
With India precariously oscillating at 329 for 5, Pant walked out to join forces with an already set Pujara. Given the steady stand of Pujara, the southpaw didn’t hesitate in taking the fight to the bowlers. He started dictating terms right from the word go and Australia was visibly in a lot of pain. By the time India was done hammering the Australian bowlers, they had managed to garner 622 runs, with Pant unbeaten on 159 from 189 deliveries, smoking 15 fours and 1 six. Unfortunately for India, despite such a crackling batting performance in the first innings, the match failed to produce any result.
MS Dhoni – 148 versus Pakistan
Faisalabad stayed witness to some exotic batting extravaganza from both the teams as a drawn match saw oodles of classic strokes being sliced and flashed. Pakistan was off to a rock-solid start and finished on a high as Inzamam-ul-Haq and Shahid Afridi blasted blistering tons to propel them to 588 in the first innings.
In response to that, India crafted an even stronger reply with Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman prepping the stage for some late pyrotechnics from the burning mane of Ranchi. As India lost Tendulkar with the scorecard reading 281 for 5 and an insinuation of follow-on lurking closely in the corner, Dhoni and Irfan Pathan put a spanner in the Pakistani plans as they stitched together a stand of 210 runs with the Indian wicket-keeper spearheading the battery.
India managed to pile up 603 in the first innings before being bundled out. Pakistan once again managed to smoke 490 in the second innings as Younis Khan and Mohammad Yousuf clubbed 194 and 126 runs respectively to see a game of batting brilliance fizzling to a tame draw in the end. Dhoni managed to smack 19 fours and 4 sixes in the innings.
Rishabh Pant – 114 versus England
Despite waging a valiant war in the fourth innings alongside KL Rahul, the failure of the rest of the batters to complement them resulted in a mortifying defeat for India. Batting first, England managed to compile 332 runs while India came as close as to 292 with Ravindra Jadeja chronicling a sensational 86.
England seemed unstoppable in the second innings as Alastair Cook and Joe Root struck centuries to punish the Indian bowlers unfathomably. England declared at 423 for 8, leaving India a monumental 464 to win.
India was jolted to a rude awakening as the English bowlers ran amok through the Indian batting order, toppling half of it in a heartbeat with KL Rahul being the solitary warrior. India was left agonizingly wobbling at 121 for 5 when Pant walked out to bat. Characteristically without withholding himself from going for the kill, he straight away went for the ropes. Tagging alongside Rahul in the most competent ways, he stitched together a fine and a sedulous knock of 114 runs before being scalped by Rashid. As soon as he and Rahul were removed, it was just a matter of time before the Indian tail succumbed to the brutality of the English bowlers.