India wicketkeeper-batter Rishabh Pant has revealed that he feared the amputation of his right leg in the aftermath of the horrific car crash which he survived 13 months ago. Pant was driving from Delhi to his hometown Roorkee to meet his family when his car crashed into the median divider on the road in December, 2022. He had just returned from Bangladesh after playing a major role in India’s win in the second Test in Mirpur.
“If there was any nerve damage, there was a possibility of amputation. That is when I felt scared,” Pant said in Star Sports series ‘Believe: To Death & Back’ which documents his recovery.
“I had taken an SUV, but what I was seeing was a sedan,” he quipped as he remembered his mangled vehicle.
Recounting the initial moments after the crash, the 26-year-old said he was in excruciating pain as his right knee had dislocated, turning 180 degrees to the right as he lay face down.
“There was someone around so I asked if he could help getting the leg back in the position. He helped the knee get back in place.” Two persons Rajat Kumar and Nishu Kumar were able to pull Pant out of his SUV before it went up in flames.
“It was the first time I had such a feeling in life. At the time of the accident, I was aware of the wounds, but I was lucky as it could have been even more serious,” he recollected.
Pant underwent initial treatment at a hospital in Dehradun and was later airlifted to Mumbai where he was under the care of a specialist consultant brought in by the BCCI.
After undergoing surgeries to reconstruct all three ligaments in his right knee, Pant did his rehabilitation at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru. The big-hitter said the process is boring at best and frustrating at worst.
“I am focusing on recovery cut off from the world. It helps me in recovering fast, especially when the injury is so serious. For recovery you have to do the same thing every day. It’s boring, it’s irritating, it’s frustrating, but you have to do it,” he elaborated.
The swashbuckling batter, who was instrumental in India’s monumental win in the Brisbane Test in 2021 that sealed a famous series win in Australia, said the doctor gave him 16 to 18 months recovery time.
“Till the time I start playing cricket, I don’t want to plan much for the future. I asked the doctor how long will it take for me to recover. I told him that everybody is speaking different things, but you will give me the most clarity about it.
“He (Doctor) said it would take 16 to 18 months. I told the doctor from whatever timeline you give me, I will reduce six months from it,” said Pant who is likely to play in the IPL for Delhi Capitals this season from March.
‘Will still drive because I love to’
Pant said everybody has been telling him not to drive again.
“Nowadays I am told, ‘Yaar, don’t drive bilkul (at all).’ But no one was more scared than me. No one was more upset than me.
“I will still drive because I love to. Just because there was a setback doesn’t mean that you do not do those things ever again.” He said as a human being, he would want to add new things in life.
“Not by eliminating what I like doing. The accident is a setback. How do you overcome that? By having the belief. That belief keeps growing and at times can border on the obsessive. But if you have belief in yourself, you can achieve anything.”
‘Fortunate to have a second life’
Pant said he was bedridden for about a month and was itching to do normal things. He started moving around, albeit very slowly.
“I didn’t think I would ever enjoy brushing my teeth. The first time I took a bath, I didn’t feel like coming out. These small things gave me joy because I’m fortunate to have a second life. Not everyone is fortunate enough to get it,” said Pant.
“Doctors also said that there was no fracture after the accident… They always tell me I am lucky. Of course, it was such a horrific accident, the individual feels bad that this happened to me. How can I be lucky? But the other side is that despite the crash, I was alive.” After a few months, Pant couldn’t resist the temptation to bat, and Delhi Capitals posted a picture of him batting as part of the country’s Independence Day celebrations. He even reached the change room of DC in 2023 IPL.
“I was thinking we could do things this way or that way. I was discussing some things with them (Capitals’ think tank). But since I was outside, it was different. When you are inside, you control certain things.” Pant said he followed the 2022-23 Ashes, which he said was fun.
“Because England have started playing in a certain fashion, something I am used to (playing),” he said, referring to the ultra-aggressive ‘Bazball’ strategy adopted by England after Brendon McCullum took charge as head coach.
“Rohit bhai says we will also play Rishball. He says you play that anyway, but we will get others also to follow you.”
Topics mentioned in this article