Former Pakistani speedster Shoaib Akhtar has credited the Indian team management for giving left-hander Rishabh Pant the confidence to play his natural game in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
Rishabh Pant had a major impact in India's historic Test series win Down Under. His blistering 97 in Sydney rattled the Australian bowlers and helped the visitors salvage a draw in the third Test. In the series decider, the 23-year-old's unbeaten 89 ended Australia's 32-year-old invincibility at the Gabba.
Rishabh Pant has been often criticized for playing rash shots and throwing his wicket away. But in a video on Shoaib Akhtar's YouTube channel, the former fast bowler explained how the Indian team management had a huge role to play in the youngster's development.
"Look at Rishabh Pant, he is so fearless. He does not care. But who gives him the confidence and freedom to play freely? The management. The management tells him to go and play freely and win the match. He almost won the third Test, he won the 4th Test. The environment and management are allowing him to play his game," Shoaib Akhtar said.
Shoaib Akhtar also lauds Indian coach Ravi Shastri for backing the youngsters
A few eyebrows were raised when head coach Ravi Shastri's contract was extended after India's heartbreaking exit from the 2019 World Cup. Many believed he was not the right person for the job.
However, Shoaib Akhtar feels Shastri deserves a lot of credit for what the injury-ravaged Indian team achieved in Australia. Despite Team India missing several important players, the coach backed the youngsters to express themselves.
"Teams are made in the dressing room. No matter how much you criticise him (Ravi Shastri), he won a series in Australia without his key players. He allowed the youngsters to shine. And these youngsters were made available by the system," Shoaib Akhtar said.
Besides Rishabh Pant, other youngsters like Washington Sundar, T Natarajan, and Shardul Thakur also played their parts in India's emphatic win at the Gabba. And Shoaib Akhtar believes Shastri's winning mindset was inherited by the younger crop.
"Ravi Shastri and the youngsters have done what was considered impossible. Shastri has a mindset where he showed faith in the young players and they exploded on to the scene," he further added.
Most of the youngsters might not get a look into the Indian Test team regularly once the senior players are fully fit. However, their performances have assured that the future of Indian cricket is in safe hands.