The Curious Case of Rishabh Pant

Tags: India, Rishabh Rajendra Pant

Published on: Sep 12, 2020

Shortly after India’s exit from the 2019 World Cup last year at the hands of the Kiwis, much was speculated about Dhoni’s future with the team and the prospective replacement being groomed in Rishabh Pant. At that point, he was the regular test keeper and though was in and out of the limited overs side, he had pretty much cemented his place in the team.

More than a year later, Pant is no longer a regular in the Indian setup in any of the formats. In a recent interview, India’s former chief selector, MSK Prasad said that Rishabh Pant tried to be the next Dhoni, started copying his mannerisms, and that’s what led to his downfall. While those were the former selector’s personal views, it can’t be ruled out that Pant looked like a pale shadow of himself during this last year or so. More than his batting, his fumbles behind the stumps have caught the eyes of critics. The resurgence of Saha in the test team and the consistency of KL Rahul in one dayers and T20Is have certainly put his spot under the scanner.

However, there have been certain moments where he has shown that he is the next big thing in Indian cricket. His strike rate of 162.7 in IPL looks too good to be true. He also holds the record of being the only Indian keeper to score test centuries in England and Australia, a feat even MS Dhoni couldn’t achieve throughout his career. He has scored more runs than anyone else in the last three years of IPL combined.

So, how do things go downhill for a player like that? Well, for starters, he started losing confidence in himself. Also the fact that he was under too much pressure, that it started to affect his performance. Filling the shoes of MSD is no mean task, and what happened to Pant is perfectly natural. On multiple occasions, he tried to hit his way out of trouble by going for big shots very early in his innings, but mostly he lost his wicket in the process.

One experiment that can be done is changing his batting number. Instead of coming at number five or six, he could open the innings in limited overs matches. This way, he can play that fearless and aggressive brand of cricket which the likes of Adam Gilchrist or Virender Sehwag used to play. And this comes naturally to him, so he wouldn’t have to curb his instincts. With the field restrictions in place, he could get his team off to a flyer and then once he is set, he can be the juggernaut that we know him to be.

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