India's top order was sliced open by a fiery opening spell by New Zealand's new ball bowlers. Matt Henry got rid of Rohit Sharma and Trent Boult dismissed Virat Kohli as the famed batting order was reduced to its knees when they were at 24 for 4. Then Hardik Pandya combined with Rishabh Pant and started the rebuilding process.
Pant, for his stroke-making abilities, looked the most secure on a pitch which was seaming around. He saw off Henry and Boult and was chugging along nicely. Kane Williamson tossed the ball to Mitchell Santner and this was what Pant viewed as an escape. He tried to go after the spinner and went for a slog sweep over deep mid-wicket. Unfortunately, he could not make the required connection and was caught in the deep. This dismissal drew flak and former England batsman Kevin Pietersen slammed the young man for this reckless dismissal.
However, the Indian captain supported the young man and threw his weight behind him. He cited his own example and said that he too made mistakes when young and that he hoped Pant would learn from this innings.
'Pant is an instinctive player'
"He's still young. I made many errors when I was young in my career and he will learn. He will look back and think yes, he could have chosen a different option in that situation and he realises that already," Kohli told reporters.
Not only this, Kohli praised the young man for being responsible and weathering the initial storm. He forged a very important partnership with Hardik Pandya and this impressed the skipper.
"He (Pant) is an instinctive player and did well to overcome that situation and stringing a partnership with Hardik (Pandya). I think the way they played after the loss of three wickets, four wickets rather, was quite commendable. I am sure he will reflect on it and he will come out stronger," he further added.
Kohli earmarked the young man as one for the future and said that one only learns from mistakes made and with these games, the players should be able to move on as a better player.
"The talent is there for everyone to see and the character is there, but, as I said, yes, a few shots (refers to Hardik Pandya), not just Rishabh's. But that happens in sport. You make errors, you make decisions which are not right at that time and you have to accept it," the captain said.