India's Pant savours 'dream series' after Brisbane masterclass

FILE PHOTO: Cricket - New Zealand v India - First Test - Basin Reserve, Wellington, New Zealand - February 24, 2020 India's Rishabh Pant in action REUTERS/Martin Hunter

(Reuters) - India's Rishabh Pant thanked the team management for keeping faith in him after his fourth-innings masterclass helped secured a memorable series-clinching victory in the final test against Australia on Tuesday.

Questions persist on Pant's wicketkeeping skills and Wriddhiman Saha, considered technically superior, was preferred in the opening test in Adelaide.

But Pant's fearless batting prompted talk about playing him as a specialist batsman and the 23-year-old produced two fourth-innings knocks that were crucial to India's 2-1 series victory in Australia.

Pant's blistering 97 helped the tourists draw the third test in Sydney and his whirlwind 89 not out fashioned their three-wicket victory at the Gabba.

"It's been a dream series," the Delhi player, who did a victory lap of the stadium carrying an Indian flag, said after collecting the man-of-the-match award.

"After not playing the first test, I practised hard and everything paid off as we won the series.

"The team management always backs me and tells me 'you are a match winner and you always have to go and win the match for the team'.

"That's the only thing I keep on thinking every day - that I want to win matches for India, and I'm happy that I did it today."

Head coach Ravi Shastri said Pant was too good a talent to be ignored, especially on away tours.

"We play him in overseas matches because he's a match winner, and he showed us exactly why during this series," said Shastri.

"When he makes some errors in keeping, people start criticising him. But the way that he batted today, he wins matches for us.

"In fact, the way he was batting in Sydney, he would have won the game for us by staying at the wicket for another hour. I think his performance has been exceptional."

(Wtiting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Nick Macfie)

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