Why Rishabh Pant deserves a long rope in limited-overs cricket
The 21-year-old wicket-keeper batsman, Rishabh Pant, the heir apparent to MS Dhoni, has not yet set the stage on fire in the T20 format. His game style suits the shortest format to the T, but ironically he has made his mark more in the longest version rather than the shorter ones, whether it’s in ODIs or T20Is.
His performance against the West Indies in the limited over formats was surprisingly lacklustre. But for the crucial fifty that he scored in the last T20I against the Windies, when the series had already been decided, he struggled mightily to impose himself.
He seemed to be confused about his role in the team, as the enforcer, finisher or an innings-builder. He tried to go for too much too soon and took too much risk in pursuit of quick runs even when there were many overs left in the innings.
He was also guilty of throwing away his wicket in that aforementioned last T20I against the Windies when victory was in sight. India barely managed to squeak through in that match, when he should he have stayed till the end and ensured that the victory was a comfortable one.
However, he is new to international cricket. Very soon, he will get opportunities in the Australia series in all three formats to establish himself in the team. India begins their campaign on 21 November at Brisbane with the first of the three T20Is.
Pant is almost a certainty to be in the playing XI. However, he will be in some kind of pressure going into that match as he has not had the best of starts to his limited overs international career, and there are quality batsmen such as Shreyas Iyer who are breathing down his neck.
This is where the role of the team management, especially that of the captain is a crucial one. If Kohli and co. feel that Pant is the future of Indian cricket, and a potential match winner, they should ensure that Pant is given the confidence to express himself freely, without worrying about failures.
Just as Sourav Ganguly had given a long rope to players like MS Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh, Captain Kohli too needs to do the same with players like Rishabh Pant who have the potential to serve Indian cricket well for a long time to come.