Rishabh Pant slammed his maiden ODI century as Rohit Sharma and company went on to register a five-wicket victory over world champions England in Manchester on Sunday. With their victory, Team India also secured the series 2-1, having won the first and last matches in London and Old Trafford. En route to his knock of 125 not out, Rishabh Pant broke a clutch of records, including MS Dhoni’s record for the highest score by a wicketkeeper-batter in a successful run-chase in SENA countries.

MS Dhoni remained unbeaten on 87 in a 50-over game against Australia in 2019 to guide India to their maiden bilateral series triumph Down Under. Rishabh Pant, however, broke that record with a fair margin as he smashed a scintillating 125* against the Jos Buttler-led side during the weekend.

With his match-winning three-figure score, Rishabh Pant became just the third Indian wicketkeeper to make a hundred while chasing a target in ODIs. In 2005, MS Dhoni tore apart the Sri Lankan bowling line-up to cruise through to an unbeaten 183 while Rahul Dravid occupies the third position in the list with his 109 not out against West Indies in 2002.

Rishabh Pant arrived at the crease with India in trouble at 21/2 after losing both their openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan inside the first five overs after Hardik Pandya (4/24) and Yuzvendra Chahal (3/60) helped the visitors bowl out England for 259 in 45.5 overs.

The Indians were then reduced to 72/4 with Virat Kohli perishing for 17 and Suryakumar Yadav departing for 16 by the time English bowlers delivered their 17 over.

Despite wickets falling around him, Rishabh Pant remained unperturbed and took a cautious approach at the start of the innings to get accustomed to the pace of the wicket. However, once he found his footing on the pitch, there was no looking back for Rishabh Pant.

The Uttarakhand-born dasher’s resurrection act came in tandem with Hardik Pandya, who hit a scintillating 71 off 55 deliveries in a 133-run partnership, bringing India back in the match.

After Hardik Pandya’s dismissal, Rishabh Pant upped the ante as he brought up his hundred off 106 balls, also his maiden one in the 50-over format in Manchester.

India eventually went on to achieve the target in 42.1 overs with Rishabh Pant remaining unbeaten on 125 off 113 balls, including 16 fours and two sixes.

In the post-match presentation ceremony, a delighted Rishabh Pant said that he will always remember his innings at Old Trafford as it was his first ton in ODIs.

“Hopefully I will remember my first ODI century for the rest of my life. But when I was in there, I was just focusing on one ball at a time. When a team is under pressure and you bat like that, that’s what you aspire to do,” Rishabh Pant said.

I enjoy playing in England and will do whatever I can do to keep enjoying my cricket. The more cricket you play, the more experience you get,” Rishabh Pant added.

Crediting India’s bowlers for restricting England to a score of 259, Rishabh Pant claimed that it was the best pitch to bat on in the ODI series.

“It was the best pitch to bat on, so credit to our bowlers for keeping them to 260. Not only this game, they have bowled well through the series. Not only this series either, they have been excellent all year,” Rishabh Pant concluded.

On the other hand, captain Rohit Sharma heaped rich praise on both Hardik Pandya and Rishabh Pant for remaining calm under pressure and getting India across the line with their brilliant batting at Old Trafford.

“It was a good pitch, but we knew it won’t be easy if we lost wickets early. It happened, but the positive is that these guys haven’t batted a long period in the middle overs and we got to see that from Rishabh and Hardik. Both of them were clinical – at no point did we feel they were panicking. They played great cricketing shots,” Rohit Sharma explained.

Rishabh Pant’s extraordinary effort against England also came in for special praise from former cricketers and pundits.

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The legendary Virender Sehwag was among the first to laud the 24-year-old southpaw.

“Last match of a series and Rishabh Pant playing brilliantly – this is a better love story than twilight. Incredible innings from an incredible player –  with great support from Hardik and Jadeja,” Virender Sehwag tweeted.

“This is one of the best ODI 100 under pressure on the English soil from an Indian batter, considering series was on the line,” former India fast bowler Irfan Pathan posted on Twitter.

“Combination of sound defence, sometimes audacious, sometimes normal attacking play controlled by a sharp and calm cricketing mind. Most importantly stays there till the end to win games for India. There is no one like Rishabh Pant!” ex-India batter Sanjay Manjrekar claimed on social media.

“Rishabh Pant has a knack of producing his best innings under pressure. What a time to bring up his first ODI hundred. The move to have him at No. 4 has started paying off,” former India opener Aakash Chopra opined.