The first thought that came to Rishabh Pant immediately after his life-threatening car crash on December 30, 2022 was that his “time in this world was over.”
Having been “fortunate to have a second life”, Pant, who is expected to play in IPL 2024, said the biggest lesson he has learned from this experience is to always have self-belief.
That is the theme of his revealing conversation with Star Sports, titled Believe: To Death & Back, which will air on February 1 at 7 pm IST. Pant talks about the accident, his state of mind, the joy of watching the 2023 Ashes, and whether he will drive a car again.
“First time in my life I had that feeling of letting it go. I felt my time in this world was over,” Pant said in the interview, which was conducted in Bengaluru on August 24, 2023, roughly eight months after the accident occurred when Pant was driving from Delhi to Roorkee to meet his family and crashed his car into the median divider on the road.
“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.”
After undergoing initial treatment at a hospital in Dehradun, Pant was airlifted to Mumbai where he was under the care of the BCCI’s specialist consultant. After undergoing surgeries to reconstruct all three ligaments in his right knee, Pant did his rehab at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru.
“I am focusing on recovery cut off from the world,” he said. “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.
“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 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.”
Pant said he was alive because of Rajat Kumar and Nishu Kumar, who pulled Pant out of his SUV before it went up in flames. In a social-media post last January, Pant said he was “forever grateful and indebted” to them.
Recounting details of those initial moments after the car crash, Pant said his right knee had dislocated – turning 180 degrees to the right as he was lying 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.”