Yuvi and Raina have been two of India's best match winners in the past decade Image: AFP
Sachin Tendulkar has given Rishabh Pant pretty big shoes to fill. He thinks of the Delhi batsman as a combination of two of the best match winners Team India has ever seen — Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina.
The master blaster has previously indicated that he rates the youngster very highly and his latest comment cements the 19-year-old's tag as one of the most promising talents in Indian cricket today.
The Delhi Daredevils batsman chose the IPL 2017 as his stage and impressed with the bat, scoring 366 runs in 14 outings. His match-winning 96 off 47 deliveries against Gujarat Lions, in particular, caught everyone's eye and prompted even Sachin to call it the best T20 innings he has ever seen.
In his latest homage to young Pant, Sachin said, “He is a special talent. To me, he looks like a combination of Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina — the set-up and the bat swing. (Absolutely) wonderful to watch."
If the high praise wasn't enough, Sachin further paid ode to the youngster's mental strength and likened the wicket-keeper to himself.
Sachin was referring to the beginning of this IPL season when Pant took the field on Delhi's opening match against Royal Challengers Bangalore, barely 48 hours after his father's death and scored a gritty half-century and was the standout player for his team on the night.
The little master found Pant's situation similar to himself when his father passed away while he was playing the 1999 World Cup. Sachin flew back after performing his father's last rites to score a century against Kenya.
“Yes, it’s never easy to have a tragedy in your family and then turn up and focus on the game. I can understand what he must have gone through, because the same happened with me in the 1999 World Cup. It takes time to overcome and is a loss that’s irreparable. Full marks to Rishabh and his family; in these times, you need your family’s support,” Sachin said when asked about the similarities between the two incidents.
For anyone uninitiated with Pant's achievements on the cricket field before this IPL, the Delhi batsman holds the record for the fastest Ranji century and, late last year, became the youngest player to earn a T20 debut for the Men in Blue, in a tie against England.
Rishabh definitely has some big expectations to fulfil, but considering the glimpses we've seen of the hard-hitting batsman so far, we won't put it past him either.