It seems time is suddenly running out for Rishabh Pant in the limited-over versions. The explosive wicketkeeper-batsman has been in the headlines ever since he had an impressive first year in international cricket with two overseas Test hundreds. Many even started seeing in him a worthy successor to Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his initial exclusion from India’s World Cup squad had left many aghast. Pant, however, got an opportunity to play in his first World Cup because of injuries to some other first-pick players but he never really delivered.
He has come under the scanner time and again for failing to convert promising starts into big knocks. His shot selections after getting set at the wicket have raised eyebrows and now it looks the team management has started feeling impatient with the soon-to-turn 22-year-old.
In his last nine international innings across all formats, the southpaw has managed only 151 runs at an ordinary average of 18.87 and head coach Ravi Shastri has been heard saying that there will be a ‘rap on the knuckles’ if the cricketer went on with his carefree approach. India’s new batting coach Vikram Rathour has also sought ‘a little bit of discipline’ in Pant’s game. Barring 65 not out against the West Indies in a T20I, Pant’s scorings have been less than satisfying.
However, former India opener Gautam Gambhir has been left livid by these statements and has expressed his disappointment over the team management’s approach in handling Pant.
“Personally, I have always backed Sanju Samson ahead of Rishabh for wicketkeeper-batsman’s role but it is disappointing to see the team-management using words like ‘from fearless to careless’, ‘rap on Rishbah’s knuckles’ and ‘need for a backup of Rishabh’,” Gambhir, an MP now, wrote in his column for Times of India.
‘Someone needs to put an arm around Pant’s shoulder’
“This is no way to handle a young human resource. Everyone wants him to play ‘sensible’ cricket. I don’t know what that means. What I do know is that the boy is now playing for survival rather than scoring runs. From the outside, it seems that his mindset is all over the place. Someone needs to put an arm around his shoulder and tell him that he is wanted in the team,” Gambhir wrote.
Rathour, who recently replaced Sanjay Bangar as Team India’s batting coach, said that the young players need to understand that there is a fine line between fearless and careless cricket. Pant scored four and 19 in the two games against South Africa in the T20I series at home.
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