It was a day of double delight for young Rishabh Pant as he guided the India colts to the semi-final of the ICC U-19 World Cup here with a crushing 197-run win over Namibia besides fetching Rs 1.9 crore IPL deal with the Delhi Daredevils.
Left-handed Pant propelled India to 349 for 6 with a pulsating 111 off 96 balls, with other contributions coming from Anmolpreet Singh (41), Sarfaraz Khan (76) and Armaan Jaffer (64).
Anmolpreet also chipped in with three valuable wickets and alongside other spinners, Mayank Dagar (3/25) and Washington Sundar (2/27), plotted the downfall of Namibia, who folded up for 149 in 39 overs.
Namibia began the mammoth chase well with openers SJ Loftie-Eaton and Niko Davin taking the team past 50. But their challenge fizzled out soon after and from 59 for no loss the team was tottering at 96 for five.
The African side was expected to show more fight in the quarterfinals after it famously knocked out defending champions South Africa in the group stage.
As it turned out, it was India, coached by batting great Rahul Dravid, all the way, be it the professional effort with the ball or their stellar batting performance after winning the toss.
Pant’s fireworks were on display hours before he was bought by Delhi Daredevils for Rs 1.9 crore after a bidding war with the Mumbai Indians.
“I think we have played some good cricket right through the tournament. At some stages, I still feel we have not played a perfect game, but this was our best all-round performance,” Dravid said.
“We had a few hiccups earlier on in the batting but it is nice to see that we have recovered and we are playing well. We’re playing good cricket, focusing on the processes and not worrying too much about the results and things are going well.”
Pant’s captain Ishan Kishan too had another reason to smile although he was out cheaply in the game, after he too went under the hammer in the auction back home with Gujarat Lions picking him for Rs 35 lakh.
Pant, who had smashed 78 off 24 balls in the last match, was unstoppable today as well. The Delhi-based wicketkeeper batsman hammered 14 fours and couple of sixes in his entertaining knock that laid the foundation for a big total.