Singh's comments came on a day when Rishabh Pant was selected in the Indian squad for the T20Is against England. The 23-year-old has featured in the teams for white-ball formats in recent times. However, his brilliant run in the Tests has led to him making a comeback to the Indian T20 squad.
In an interaction with Sportskeeda’s Indranil Basu during an SK Live session on Facebook, Sarandeep Singh backed the decision to include Rishabh Pant in the teams for the shorter formats. the former selector said:
“He is an all-format player. He bats in Test matches like one should bat in ODIs and T20Is.”
According to the 41-year-old, there was never any issue with Rishabh Pant’s batting. The problem was with his keeping and fitness, which the player seems to have been addressed.
“He seemed to have gained a bit of weight. He didn’t seem like a natural keeper. Many felt he doesn’t have the natural movement and he will have to work very hard to improve. But I always sensed that his confidence in his batting would improve his keeping. We need to support him because he is young and we know what he is capable of. And he has proved that now," said Singh.
Rishabh Pant is mentally strong: Sarandeep Singh
Praising the left-handed wicket-keeper batsman for his impressive keeping on a turning track in Chennai, Singh described Rishabh Pant as a hard-working cricketer.
“Look how nicely he kept on turning wickets. His confidence is evident in his keeping. When he chats, it seems like someone who has played 50-100 Tests is talking. He is feeling like a senior player in the team," said Sarandeep Singh.
"Sometime back, one was not sure whether he would be in the playing XI. He sat out the first Test in Australia. But he is mentally very strong. He keeps working hard on his game. And because he is not fumbling behind the stumps, the debate over his keeping has stopped for now," Singh added.
Rejecting criticism about Rishabh Pant not being a natural keeper, Singh pointed to MS Dhoni’s career. Dhoni faced similar roadblocks during his early days in international cricket.
“Even Mahi (Mahendra Singh Dhoni) was not a natural keeper when he came in. But his batting was so good, his unconventional keeping method not only became acceptable but went on to achieve legendary status. He did not allow any other keeper to displace him for years because he was mentally very strong," explained Singh.
Rishabh Pant is currently training with the Indian team in Ahmedabad. The third Test between India and England, a pink-ball encounter, will be played at the Motera Stadium from February 24th.