The Curious Case of Rishabh Pant
Not many Cricketers in India come with a baggage of expectations. The statement may sound vague but just think about it for a moment. Indian cricket is brimming with so much talent that the team has the luxury to rotate even their mainstays.
When you are new in the team, fans all across the world wait to see how you perform. But what happens when you are not looked at as the first of your kind?
What happens when you know you will be compared to a certain individual time and time again? It doesn’t help your case either if the person you are about to succeed is one of the most decorated players in the history of Indian Cricket.
Rishabh Pant is destined to take over the mantle from the former Indian Captain, and arguably one of the greatest finishers the game has ever seen, MS Dhoni.
Rishabh Pant is not new to the scene. He has been around for a while now. His IPL exploits are well documented and so is his failure in limited-overs international cricket.
Fear of failure? Utter lack of luck? Talent? Humongous Expectations? What is happening with Rishabh Pant? What is it that the young-gun is lacking?
It wouldn't be an overstatement to say that the southpaw hasn't been left alone since bursting onto the scene. He is always expected to come out and play career-defining innings. A type of innings that his predcessor played very early in his career. But again, Rishabh hasn't been able to put up a performance worth noting.
Rishabh Pant has played in 23 T20 Internationals and he averages a poor 19.9 with a strike rate of 119. This Stat, when compared to his IPL outings, presents a completely different picture. He has appeared in 54 IPL matches and averages at around 37 with a strike rate of 161.
One may argue that international cricket has its pressure, but such a difference both in numbers and confidence cannot be justified. IPL is no small tournament. World-class bowlers participate and bowl. Pant's ability to take on the best was on full display when he hit Jasprit Bumrah to all parts of the ground in this year's IPL.
So the talent is there. Fear of failure doesn't quite bode well with his kind of game. Expectations are there and he will have to channel the adrenaline to perform in the right way. The best way out for Rishabh Pant right now is to just focus on himself and his game. Rohit Sharma too asked everyone to leave the young bloke alone.
Time is running out for Rishabh Pant, and quickly. With Sanju Samson waiting in the wings and the rise of KS. Bharat in the domestic circuit, Pant will have to come up with something special. Special.
He is under a lot of pressure right now. And the pressure is a lot more when you will be compared to MS. Dhoni with every success and failure.
LET HIM BE. We cannot expect him to be the next MS. Dhoni. But certainly, he can be the first Rishabh Pant once he finds his way around the expectations. He needs to embrace it rather than being bogged down by it.