Team India got off to an underwhelming start in their five-match T20I series against England, in Ahmedabad, after losing the opening game by eight wickets. But even in defeat, the country’s new blue-eyed boy Rishabh Pant managed to catch the fancy of the internet by pulling off his unorthodox reverse scoop, this time off the bowling of one of the fieriest bowlers in the world, Jofra Archer.

During the recently concluded Test-series against the same opposition, a centurion Pant debuted this audacious stroke off the bowling of the modern-day fast-bowling legend James Anderson. The young wicketkeeper-batsman sent the second new ball sailing above the slip cordon, as his third career hundred eventually set up India’s 2-1 series win, in a crunch situation.

Among the admirers of Pant’s most recent shenanigans was former England batsman Kevin Pietersen. He went as far as calling it ‘the greatest shot that’s ever been played in cricket.’ The Englishman pointed out Archer’s threat with the new white ball and his serious speeds, hovering around the 90mph mark, which made Pant’s feat even more impressive.

Pant must take a lot of pride in KP’s compliments. The former English batsman was himself one of the first batsmen to introduce the switch-hit brand of stroke play to post-2000s cricket. 

Pietersen had first attempted the switch hit off the bowling of the legendary Muttiah Muralitharan in a test match against Sri Lanka in May 2006; the shot resurfaced against New Zealand a couple of years later, during a one-day tournament.

Despite KP being the poster boy of the switch hitting antics, some believe that the founder’s credit should go to South Africa’s Jonty Rhodes. He hit a six playing a similar shot against Australia’s Darren Lehmann in an ODI, in 2002.  

In fact, some other cricket historians attribute the first such attempt to former Indian opening batsman, Kris Srikanth. He switch hit the Kiwi spinner Dipak Patel for a four, during the 1987 World Cup.

Other attacking limited over batsmen like AB de Villiers, David Warner and Glenn Maxwell, have often employed the switch hit/reverse scoop often in recent memory. Some shots have even forced the higher powers in world cricket to clarify that switching the bat’s grip is within the laws of cricket.

Coming back to the latest display of unorthodox batting, Pant’s efforts went in vain as Team India could only post 124 runs in their 20 overs, after being asked to bat first. Top-scorer Shreyas Iyer (67 off 48) couldn’t find enough support from the other end while Archer eventually finished with impressive figures of 3/23. 

Jason Roy (49) led the chase for the visitors, who finished the game with almost five overs to spare. Virat Kohli & Co will be forced to go back to the drawing board before the next match. The Men in Blue will be vary of the number-one ranked English side’s capabilities and will want to level the series before it’s too late. 

Will we see more switch hits/reverse laps/scoops in action, though? Let’s stay tuned.