Are the Indian selectors unable to think beyond reckless Pant? What’s behind their rigid and blind trust in the youngster?
India won the first match of their 2019-2020 home season at Mohali by beating South Africa by 7 wickets. While captain Virat Kohli scored an unbeaten 72 runs, the much-touted flamboyant young keeper-batsman Rishabh Pant faltered yet again. This wasn’t the first time that Pant was underwhelming, but the BCCI selectors have been adamant in grooming him as captain cool MS Dhoni’s successor behind the stumps.
Cricket fans and pundits are very happy with team India’s performance but disappointed with Rishabh Pant’s reckless approach.
Rishabh Pant burst on to the scene a couple of years ago. And the nation saw the glimpses of great talent. MS Dhoni’s career is reaching its twilight, which was also visible in his somewhat reduced ability to play a bigger part in India’s cause. In Dhoni’s absence, Rishabh Pant emerged as the preferred choice of the selectors as the frontline wicketkeeper-batsman of the Indian team.
But, Pant has been extremely underwhelming
Rishabh Pant played 8 matches in the Windies tour. However, his performances were below par. Pant scored only one fifty and scored low scores consistently. His performances during the Windies tour brought disappointment to India’s cricket fans and former cricketers.
The former cricketers were not happy with the way Pant is careless and impatient in his approach, which results in him giving away his wicket cheaply. Most of the former cricketers believe that Pant has to play with much more discipline.
However, BCCI is rigid in its view of Pant being Dhoni’s best replacement
As per BCCI’s top brass, Rishabh Pant is the best replacement for MS Dhoni as a wicketkeeper. The 21-year-old left-handed batsman performed extremely well in the last two IPL seasons. Due to his astonishing performances and continued form, BCCI narrowed down on Pant and Indian cricket has been grooming him ever since. Unfortunately, Pant’s performance has been embarrassing.
Pant’s style of playing is very direct and attacking, similar to that of the hard-hitting yet composed MS Dhoni. Most people believe that Pant has an X-factor just like MSD. Cricket experts have often opined that they see in Pant the ability to win matches single-handedly.
Two months ago, chief selector, MSK Prasad said, “We have laid down a few more plans and we thought of giving as many opportunities as possible to Rishabh Pant and to see, he is groomed. That is our plan right now and we did discuss this with him (Dhoni)”.
Captain Kohli and Coach Shastri are disappointed
After the World Cup 2019, Risabh Pant played as a regular wicketkeeper-batsman in place of MS Dhoni. Pant played 9 matches for the Indian team but has not performed well. The angst is best exemplified by captain Virat Kohli and the team management who are not happy with Pant’s approach and the way he gets out carelessly.
A few days ago, Kohli said, “The only expectation from Rishabh is that he read situations well. We don’t expect him to play the way you might be thinking. It is about analyzing a situation and dealing with it in your own way.”
“As simple as that. Because you are letting the team down, forget letting yourselves down. In a situation where you have the captain at the other end, a target to chase, the need of the hour is sensible cricket,” said Shastri on Pant’s batting approach.
There are other (and maybe better) alternatives that BCCI has ignored
Rishabh Pant is BCCI’s first choice as MS Dhoni’s replacement. Rishabh Pant did not perform well in the last 10 matches. Pant has emerged as the big concern for Captain Virat Kohli and head coach Ravi Shastri. World T20 is team India’s next big mission.
Now the question is how many chances are enough before BCCI looks at the other options instead of Rishabh Pant. In the Indian cricket domestic circuit, there are many talented wicket keepers like – Ishan Kishan, Sanju Samson, Wriddhiman Saha, Naman Ojha, Ankush Bains, Srikar Bharat etc. who are performing very well. However, none has received the same backing as Pant.
However, if Rishabh Pant continues to underperform in the current and upcoming series against South Africa and Bangladesh, then selectors will have no chance but to look at other options.