India vs South Africa: Rishabh Pant walks a tightrope between fearless and careless cricket

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India vs South Africa: Rishabh Pant walks a tightrope between fearless and careless cricket

Rishabh Pant has had more downs than ups in the shortest format of the game for India, with his last nine T20Is seeing him score less than 5 on six occasions with unbeaten 65 in the last T20I against West Indies in Guyana being his highest.

As Team India is all set to face South Africa in the second T20I at the IS Bindra Stadium on Wednesday (September 18), the team management would hope Pant puts on the kind of show he does in the IPL, where he has scored 488 runs and 684 respectively in the last two seasons.

Captain Virat Kohli and head coach Ravi Shastri have already told the reporters that Pant can make his rich batting talent count only if he improves game awareness and doesn’t throw away his wicket. On Tuesday, after a long training session with Pant, Shreyas Iyer and Manish Pandey, the new batting coach Vikram Rathour made few things clear.

“In T20, we are fortunate to have all-rounders. Iyer and Pandey have proved their credentials in domestic cricket consistently and have been picked for the middle-order. They need to carry on and be consistent. We have 20-21 games ahead of the T20 World Cup, which will help us prepare well. With such depth in batting, we can come hard in the beginning of the match and maintain momentum,” Rathour said in his first media interaction in a new role.

The former Test opener is no stranger to the national set up, having been a national selector from 2012 to 2016. He wants batsmen to be fearless, but sensible.

“Rishabh is phenomenal but needs to sort out his game plan and be more disciplined,” Rathour said. “His hits make him special and an impact player. But the young cricketers need to understand that there is a thin line between playing fearless and careless cricket. The team management is asking the players to be fearless, to have intent and back their strength.”

“At times, we over emphasise on technique. It is more about the mindset at this level, getting your game plan right. As far as Rishabh is concerned, he is a phenomenal player, he just needs to sort out his game plan, bring in a little bit of discipline in his cricket.

“We want him to play all his shots. That is what makes him special, he is an impact player. But at the same time, you can’t be careless,” the batting coach added.

The opening game of the three-match T20I series between India and South Africa on Sunday (September 15) was abandoned due to rain in Dharamsala.

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