Rishabh Pant’s match-winning rampage triggered an unpleasant sense of deja vu for Australia coach Justin Langer, taking him back to Ben Stokes’ masterful chase in 2019.
Pant secured India a 2-1 series victory at the Gabba by reeling in a target of 328, making a mockery of the hosts’ star-studded attack on a day-five pitch.
It was the highest successful chase from 63 Tests at the venue, snapping Australia’s undefeated streak in Brisbane that stretched back to 1988.
Pant finished 89 not out, keeping calm amid a chaotic finish.
The parallels with Stokes’ unbeaten ton at Headingley, which dragged his side past 359 and completed England’s highest ever chase, weren’t lost on Langer.
“Pant’s innings reminded me a bit about Ben Stokes at Headingley,” Langer told ABC Sport.
“So what can we get better at? Maybe how we approach left-handers who come and take it back at us.
“It’s been a tough series.
“We’ll be thinking the same thing as everyone else … I can’t tell you how much it will hurt the 11 guys.”
Pant’s promotion to No.5 in the batting order was a clear signal of intent from India that they had little interest in settling for a draw.
The 23-year-old didn’t disappoint, slapping nine fours and one six.
Pant, who was left out of India’s XI for their series-opening loss then rushed off scans in Sydney after a stinging blow to the arm from Pat Cummins, was emblematic of the tourists’ fighting spirit.
“I’m happy that all the support staff and all my teammates supported me, even when I wasn’t playing,” Pant said.
“It’s been a dream series. The team management always backs me and tells me ‘you are a match winner’.
“I keep thinking every day that I want to win matches for India, and I did it.
“It was a fifth-day pitch and the ball was turning a bit.”
Steve Smith described Pant as an “exceptional talent”.
“He played a pretty amazing innings on a day-five wicket,” Smith told cricket.com.au.
“He took the game on, played in his areas.
“We’ve seen in short-form cricket in particular, how good he is and where he can hit the ball.”
Langer and Smith also showered Cheteshwar Pujara and Shubman Gill with praise for the key roles they played on the final day of an epic series.