New Delhi: On the cemented terrace of his Roorkie home in Uttarakhand, father Rajinder Pant would tie a pillow to the chest of his tiny son Rishabh and bowl with a cork ball to him from close distance to take the fear of facing fast bowlers out of his mind.
That, coupled with the Maltova-mixed milk, gave strength to Rishabh’s muscles — a testimony of which was delivered in Brisbane on Tuesday as he hammered an unbeaten 89 to guide India to a match and series triumph.
That novel practice method was a roaring success as Pant, who would take two tiffin boxes to school to save time for cricket practice after school hours, became fearless and that is reflected in his shots.
Anyone who watched him accelerate during his 138-ball knock in the fourth and final Test against Australia at the Gabba would vouch that Pant had learnt his lessons well in the tiny Uttarakhand town.
Looking at the talent their son possessed, Rajinder and his wife Saroj took the big decision of sending Rishabh to Dronacharya Awardee coach Tarak Sinha in Delhi.
Commuting was a big challenge, but the mother took that responsibility. She would wake up in the middle of the night to catch the 3 am bus from Roorkee to Delhi for an arduous five-hour journey, along with Rishabh, so that he could attend the Sinha-run Sonnet Club’s net practice sessions on Saturdays and Sundays at Sri Venkateswara College in south Delhi.
She and her son would often stay at a Gurudwara near the college on weekends so that he could practice on Sundays, before a grown up Rishabh rented accommodation in Delhi.