Sunil Gavaskar and Dale Steyn aren't happy with India captain Rishabh Pant as both believe the 24-year-old cricketer is making the same mistakes over and over again. India legend Sunil Gavaskar and iconic South Africa pacer Dale Steyn were highly critical of Rishabh Pant's mode of dismissals in the ongoing T20I series against the Proteas. While the Indians succeeded in leveling the series at 2 games apiece after beating the Proteas by 82 runs in the fourth match in Rajkot, Rishabh Pant was once again dismissed cheaply for a score of 17 as his disappointing run with the bat continued. It was the third consecutive poor performance from Rishabh Pant, having made 5 and 6 in Cuttack and Visakhapatnam respectively. More than his low scores, however, it is the manner of Rishabh Pant's dismissals that has evoked strong reactions from ex-cricketers. On Friday, he attempted to slog sweep a ball that was way outside the off stump and eventually paid the price out as he top-edged it and was easily caught by Dwaine Pretorius at short third man.
“He hasn't learned. He hasn't learned from his previous three dismissals. They throw wide, and he keeps going for it. He can’t throw enough muscle on that. He has got to stop looking to go aerial that far outside the off-stump,” Sunil Gavaskar said on Star Sports.
“There is no way he's going to get enough on it. It has gone to short-third! They all plan it, South African bowlers and Temba Bavuma just bowl wide outside the off-stump and you will get him,” Sunil Gavaskar added.
“10 times, he has been dismissed wide outside off-stump (in T20s in 2022). Some of them would've been called wide if he hadn't made contact with it. Because he's so far away, he has to reach out for it. He will never get enough power on it. To keep getting out in the same series in the same manner, for a captain of the Indian team, that's not a good sign,” Sunil Gavaskar opined.
South Africa great Dale Steyn was much more scathing in his remarks, saying that a good player generally learns from his mistakes, but Rishabh Pant isn't showing any kind of improvement and continues to commit similar mistakes.
“Pant has had four opportunities in this series, where he seems to be making the same mistakes. Also, you think that good players learn from their mistakes, he has not. DK has just come out every single time and shown what a class player he is. If you want to win the World Cup, you want to pick a guy who is in form. There are guys who team will pick on reputation, but DK is in such fantastic form, if he continues this form, he is going to be one of the first names written down on the plane when India tours for the World Cup later this year,” Dale Steyn said on ESPNcricinfo's ‘T20 Time Out'.
Former Team India fast bowler, Zaheer Khan didn't agree with Sunil Gavaskar and Dale Steyn as he defended Rishabh Pant, saying the southpaw deserved more time.
“When he scores runs, people talk about him. When he doesn't, people still talk about him. There's a similar style of pattern in his captaincy. We have to give him time. He likes to think out of the box. He tries to follow his instincts far too much. He likes to take a lot of chances. He has to find that balance when he makes extreme decisions. It's just like his batting,” Zaheer Khan said on Cricbuzz.
“One thing that stands out about him is that he is very serious about his cricket. That no one can question. He is very passionate about the game. He wants to do things at a rapid pace. With time, he will get what he wants because he knows where he is headed,” Zaheer Khan summed up.
While Rishabh Pant has had a woeful run with the bat, he did manage to marshal his troops well in the last two matches against South Africa, having clawed back from a 0-2 deficit to take the series into a decider after putting it back on an even keel during the weekend.
After India annihilated the visitors by 82 runs at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Rajkot, Rishabh Pant acknowledged that he needed to make improvements in his batting.
“As an individual, I can look to improve in certain areas. Not too concerned though. Looking to take the positives and looking to improve. Let's see what happens in Bangalore. Looking forward to giving our 100 percent,” the India skipper said in the post-match presentation on Friday night.
The final game of the five-match series will take place at Bengaluru's M. Chinnaswamy Stadium on Sunday.