Over the years, India have produced a number of young prodigies who have gone on to become legends of the sport. The likes of Ravi Shastri, Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli etc. have all gone on to make it big in cricket. One name that was expected to join this elite list was Rishabh Pant.
After breaking onto the scene by scoring the fastest fifty in under-19 cricket in the 2016 ICC Under-19 World Cup, Pant made headlines with his performances in the 2016 IPL. The second half of the year saw him reach greater heights as he scored 972 runs at a rate of 107.28 runs every 100 balls and averaged 81 in 12 Ranji Trophy innings. He was rewarded for his efforts with a place in the Indian T20I team to face England earlier this year and made his debut in the third T20I in Bengaluru. Unfortunately, he got to face only a few deliveries towards the end of the innings.
His performances in the Ranji Trophy also earned him the role of Delhi's captain for the Vijay Hazare trophy in his first full season on the Indian domestic circuit. Pant later carried on his good form into the IPL as he scored 366 runs in 14 innings for Delhi Daredevils at an average of 26 and a strike-rate of over 150.
Following the IPL, he was picked in the Indian side that toured West Indies. Though he did not play a single ODI in the Caribbean, he played the only T20I and scored 38 runs before going through a pale patch in India A's series in South Africa and against New Zealand at home.
He is slowly finding his groove again and has scored 212 runs in five innings at an average of 42.40 and strike-rate of 87 in the ongoing season. He has also captained Delhi to the quarter-final of the ongoing Ranji Trophy where they will face Madhya Pradesh in Vijayawada.
Amidst his busy schedule, Sportskeeda caught up with the 20-year-old and discussed various things. Here are the excerpts:
Q: How did it feel when you got your national cup before your T20I debut?
It was a great feeling. It was a dream come true for me. Every Indian kid who takes up the game seriously wants to play for India. It was a proud moment for me and my family.
Q: A lot of people call you the next MS Dhoni. What is your take on that comparison?
I know that they are praising me, but everything has two different angles. To be honest, I don't see any comparison. I just want to concentrate on my game and look to perform well in every match I play. This is what matters to me. I don't care about people comparing me with someone like Mahi bhai. I am not sure whether it is a good thing or a bad thing. People do whatever they want, I do whatever I want.
Q: How is the 2017-18 domestic season going for you?
It has been a fine season for me. But, yes, it is not like last season. Not always will things go your way in sports. Sometimes it will, sometimes it won't and I should be ready to accept whatever comes my way.
Q: You were appointed the captain of Delhi's Ranji Trophy team that has the likes of Gautam Gambhir in it. Do you feel any burden of captaining the side?
Right now, it is a very good thing for me. The management has given me the responsibility of captaining the side and it has been helping me as a player. We are in a good frame of mind now as we qualified for the quarter-final. We will try and win the trophy this time.
Q: You got just two matches with the Indian team and were ignored by the selectors even before you got a proper opportunity to prove yourself. What are you doing to make sure that you get back into the Indian team? Is it at the back of your mind?
The comeback is not on my mind at all. But, the thing is, whenever you play domestic cricket, you have to perform there first. That's how you can make a comeback to the national side. I am just concentrating on my game and trying to give my best in whichever game I play. This is the only thing that will help me make a return to the Indian team.
Q: You broke onto the scene during the under-19 World Cup. Unfortunately, you lost in the final. With the 2018 Under-19 World Cup just over a month away, do you think our boys can win the tournament?
We, as players, whenever we go out, we look to win. All the teams have an equal chance of winning the tournament. Whoever plays well will win the match. Having said that, I think we have a very good under-19 team. I hope that they bring the cup back to India next year.
Q: Have you set any future goals for yourself?
I just want to perform better than I did in the 2016-17 season. I will be more than happy if I manage to do that.
Q: You are at your best at the top of the order. But, for Delhi Daredevils and Delhi's List-A side, you bat in the middle order. Which position brings out the best in you?
A good player will do well wherever he bats. There is no particular position in which I want to bat. Wherever I get my chances, I want to do well.