Death is the most tragic thing known to mankind. For any human being, no grief is as big as anyone’s death, especially the one’s closer to them. It takes ample of time and solid character to curtail the agony as it’s nearly impossible to get over it. Sportsmen are often misconceived as people with super powers. Their outstanding performances in respective fields inevitably places them in a league other than the normal humans yet, they have emotions, feelings and are humans like us.

Losing someone as close as a father is a huge loss in anyone’s life. And the ill-fated incident struck Delhi Daredevils’ batsman Rishabh Pant’s family when his father passed away on Wednesday. As per the news reports, Rishabh’s father Rajendra Pant suffered a cardiac arrest and succumbed to death while sleeping on Wednesday night. Rishabh was gearing up for his career-defining Indian Premier League’s opening encounter against Royal Challengers Bangalore in New Delhi.

After performing the last rites, Rishabh joined the team for their Saturday night contest. He had a huge mental barrier to overcome. His wounds were fresh, which needed time to heal and simultaneously he had a golden opportunity awaiting, on the other hand. It demands huge character and individuality for any cricketer to overcome such instances but Rishabh’s decision to accompany his team was a testament to his big heart and personality. He had to deal with emotions, memories, grief and on the other hand, he had to focus on his game, his batting, his wicket-keeping.

The question is, what can an ordinary 19-year-old can do? Well, pass a higher secondary exam with flying colours? Pant left his personal disaster back and played an innings of substance only to show what he is made of. Pant is expected to make it big in Indian cricket and this instance was just a testament to his self-belief and passion towards the game.

DD were already in hot water after having lost few of their key players due to injury and couldn’t afford to miss out on any. At the same time, they couldn’t expect or even request Pant to join the team soon. But, Pant was well aware of the team’s requirements and decided to leave everything behind for the moment and focus on the game.

His team tried their best to be supportive and Pant was named in the playing XI for their opening game. His participation would have been enough but Pant was not going to settle for less and had to prove why is he among the most promising talents in the country. When Pant took guard, not many would have expected him to play the kind of innings he did and overshadow his imminent peers. But, Pant did the unexpected and almost snatched an implausible victory from the jaws of defeat. This wasn’t just any other day for Pant, it was his first match without his father’s presence.

All the contemplations regarding his mindset and concentration were put to rest after Pant smashed the very first ball for a maximum over mid-wicket. He continued his assault and wasn’t affected by the fall of wickets at the other end. Pant stood tall and didn’t let his emotions get the better of him, in fact, he played his natural game, which is attacking.

DD needed 21 off 12 deliveries when Amit Mishra endured four dot balls off Shane Watson’s 19th over. The pressure was back on Pant, he had to hit almost every ball to the boundary for a win. Pawan Negi was handed the responsibility of defending 19 runs off the final over. He did far better than expected, scalping Pant’s wicket off the very first ball. The last hope for DD was gone as emotions started to flow when the southpaw made his way back to the pavilion. He belted four sixes and three boundaries for his brisk innings of 57 off 36 deliveries and carried the team on the brink of a dazzling victory.

Pant delivered more than what was expected out of him. Who knows what could have been the result if Mishra didn’t endure four dots? No one to be blamed here and a win or a loss hardly mattered. Pant won his battle but his team lost the war. His teammates and many cricket pundits spoke highly about his innings and praised him for showing such a big heart in such time of difficulties.

I’m not drawing any comparison but this was the kind of spirit earlier shown by Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli in similar circumstances. Tendulkar’s father passed away in 1999 during the World Cup in England. He had to fly back after the second game and scored a crucial 140 on his return against Kenya. India needed to win this game against Kenya and also their stalwart Tendulkar to deliver.

Kohli also came out to bat for Delhi in a Ranji Trophy encounter against Karnataka right after his father’s death. He scored a determined 90 after resuming batting with his overnight score of 40 and sailed the ship out of choppy waters with precision.

The lustrous life of a star is built on hard work, sacrifices, and passion towards the game. Interestingly, Pant has done something similar to what the two cricketing legends did during their cricketing chronicle. Pant has shown that he belongs to the big league and with age being on his side, one can only expect him to get better. As of now, our deep prayers are with Pant and his family. RIP Rajendra Pant!

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