One of the non-stop talking points in Indian cricket these days is about Rishabh Pant’s temperament. Every time he walks out to bat in the middle, the focus is well and truly on how he will go about his innings.
The 21-year-old southpaw has come under the scanner [none more so when he played that slog sweep in the World Cup semi-final] repeatedly already in an embryonic career.
Recently, while reiterating his faith in Pant’s talent and destructive ability, head coach Ravi Shastri did say that some of the youngster’s decisions with the bat had let the team down.
“When you see a shot like the one in Trinidad, off the first ball, [it’s disappointing],” Shastri said in an interview to Star Sports, referring to Pant coming down the track to Fabian Allen in India’s third ODI against West Indies in Port of Spain, only to mistime his loft to mid-off.
“He tries to repeat it a couple of times and gets out, he will be told,” Shastri said. “There will be a rap on the knuckles there – talent or no talent – because you are letting the team down, forget letting yourself down. You are letting the team down in a situation where you have the captain at the other end [Kohli was at the crease when Pant got out with India needing 164 off 22.3 overs]. You have a target to chase where the need of the hour is some sensible cricket.”
That innings was Pant’s second first-ball duck on the Caribbean tour. In the first T20I in Lauderhill, too, he had top-edged a slog sweep off Sunil Narine.
“No one will change his style but match awareness becomes crucial, shot selection becomes crucial in particular situations,” Shastri explained.
“If he can fathom that out, he could be unstoppable. You mentioned how many games [it would take], it could be one game, it could be four games. I don’t see more than that. He will learn. He has played enough IPL cricket. So it’s time now for him to step on to the stage and just show the world how devastating he is.”