How long does India persist with floundering Rishabh Pant?

Tags: Bangladesh tour of India 2019, India, Bangladesh, Rishabh Rajendra Pant

Published on: Nov 11, 2019

In the build up to the third T20I against Bangladesh at Nagpur, India’s skipper for the series, Rohit Sharma, had asked for struggling wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant to be left alone. "I just feel that he needs to be allowed to do what he wants to do on the field. I would request everyone to keep their eyes away from Rishabh Pant for a while," Rohit had said while speaking to the media.

While it is not difficult to understand Rohit’s sentiments, as he was only backing his player under pressure, the fact is that sometimes harsh calls too need to be taken. Pant had two more opportunities to shine against Bangladesh, but he failed on both occasions. At his home ground in Delhi, he struggled with his strike rate, managing only 27 in 26 balls, at a time when acceleration was the need of the hour. His DRS choice also came under scrutiny in the game. Pant then fluffed up a simple stumping in the second T20I, by gathering the ball ahead of the stumps. It was a rather glaring error for an international cricketer.

The innings he played in the decider at Nagpur on Sunday, when he made 6 from 9, made it clear that he is troubled with both his batting side and the mental state of his mind. Pant distinctly didn’t look in any kind of rhythm at all during his stay in the middle. And, his dismissal in the end wasn’t surprising -- a wild swish against Soumya Sarkar, completely missing the slower ball to get bowled. There is no doubting Pant’s talent. However, with the equally talented Sanju Samson waiting in the wings, it is only fair that the other wicket-keeper batsman also gets a chance.

Pant was recently dropped in favour of Wriddhiman Saha for the Tests against South Africa, and it proved to be a fruitful move. Similarly, Samson should now be given a chance to prove his credentials in the shorter formats of the game. To be fair to Pant, he has had quite a few chances, and has failed to deliver. After making a half-century in a T20I in West Indies, he had a highest score of 27 across the two Tests. In the two T20Is against South Africa, he made 4 and 19.

Pant has age on his side, and has the potential to become a match-winner. But, for now, getting his rhythm and confidence back through domestic cricket seems the saner choice.

--Renin Wilben Albert

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