Rishabh Pant: Unlucky or Undeserving?
Rishabh Pant was touted to be the ideal replacement for MS Dhoni. Pant stamped his authority when he scored two overseas centuries in Australia and England, becoming the first Indian wicketkeeper to do so. This made him the first choice wicket-keeper for India in Tests. His performances in IPL also assured the team management that he is a promising prospect for limited-overs cricket. The management backed him remarkably whenever questions were raised about his poor shot selection and mediocre wicket-keeping efforts and thus provided him with a sense of security.
After the World Cup, we have started backing Rishabh Pant. So, we will still back him and see that he progresses well -- MSK Prasad, Chief Selector
He is a match-winner and once he comes good we will see a a different version of him which we have seen in the IPL where is he free, relaxed and he feels there is a lot more respect coming for his abilities and what he can achieve in the team -- Virat Kohli, Indian Captain
See, the guy is 20 or 22. He came in and in Test match cricket, he has got 2 or 3 hundreds already overseas. It's a learning curve as far as Pant goes. He is destructive with the way he bats, he is a match winner on a given day -- Ravi Shastri, Head Coach
They put their weight behind the player, assuring him that he will be given all the space and time he wants. But what has changed now? Becoming the first wicket-keeper batsman to smash centuries in England and Australia, his performances should have cemented his spot in the Test side.
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Change in selectors' stance
Looking at Rishabh Pant's stats in limited-overs cricket, he not lived up to his potential. Also, his mistakes in wicket-keeping have not helped his case.
When Wriddhiman Saha recovered from his injury and was selected for the home series against South Africa, Pant was the first choice keeper. But the youngster had a poor series, scoring just 58 runs across three innings. And it took selectors just one bad series to replace him with Saha.
However, in limited-overs cricket, his performances were under par to say the least. In ODIs, he scored just 374 runs in 14 innings at an average of 26.71, and in T20Is, he scored 411 runs in 25 innings at 20.55. These statistics are in stark contrast with his IPL performances, where he is the star batsman for his side, Delhi Capitals.
In the home series against Australia, Rishabh Pant got hit by a Pat Cummins bouncer and was rested as he was monitored for a concussion. KL Rahul was appointed as the stand-in keeper for the rest of the series and impressed with his clean wicket-keeping outings and his versatility with the bat.
Look we have what we have in the team. It is just that Rahul really brings in good balance, if he can keep and bat that well in that position. He has come into the slot and he has done well so we will have to persist with that a little bit and see where that takes us and not necessarily be confused about the other options we have -- Virat Kohli
And now there is a lack of clarity on Pant. Even after being declared fit, Pant has not played so far on the tour of New Zealand. Rahul's batting performances have added to keeping Pant out. His untimely injury opened the doors for someone else.
But this can also act as a catalyst for change. With age on his side, he has time to address certain things. He can work on being a more stable batsman and a better keeper. And when he gets his opportunity, he needs to make the most of it.Published 08 Feb 2020, 12:43 IST