India captain Rishabh Pant’s poor form is among one of the hottest topics of discussion on social media and within the cricketing fraternity of the cricket-crazy nation. While legends like Sunil Gavaskar, and Dale Steyn had earlier slammed Rishabh Pant for not learning from his previous mistakes, now ex-Pakistan spinner Danish Kaneria has joined the debate. According to Danish Kaneria, Rishabh Pant should be given a break from international cricket, especially from T20Is, given his continuous struggles with the bat in the format.

Known for his explosive batting, Rishabh Pant has failed to fire in the first four matches of the ongoing series against South Africa at home, having compiled 29, 5, 6, and 17 in his outings in Delhi, Cuttack, Visakhapatnam, and Rajkot. However, the manner of his dismissals is something that has perplexed former cricketers as he has fallen to deliveries bowled well outside off-stump.

Moreover, with Dinesh Karthik and Ishan Kishan already occupying slots in the Indian batting line-up, many experts including Danish Kaneria believe that Rishabh Pant is not at all required.

Unlike Rishabh Pant, Dinesh Karthik has caught the attention of the public at large, becoming the oldest Indian batter to hit a T20I fifty on Friday. Dinesh Karthik was the man for India in Rajkot as he struck a blistering 55 off 27 balls to seal the home team’s second successive victory, helping them level the series at 2-2 with one more game to be played in Bengaluru on Sunday.

On the other hand, Ishan Kishan has also showcased his batting exploits in the series against the Proteas. In the first match at Delhi, Ishan Kishan took the South Africa bowlers to the cleaners, smashing a sensational 76 of just 48 balls. He followed it up with another half-century in Visakhapatnam.

The performances of both Dinesh Karthik and Ishan Kishan have put immense pressure on Rishabh Pant to deliver and Danish Kaneria is of the view that he could soon lose his spot in the India T20I line-up if he fails to deliver soon.

“India have got a nice team combination with better understanding between players. Karthik and Hardik have been performing consistently but Ruturaj and Ishan haven’t been able to do it. Also, Pant needs to improve his batting. India have also got KS Bharat. I also don’t see any problem in bringing in Wriddhiman Saha. Just give a break to Rishabh Pant. Saha was excellent for Gujarat Titans in the IPL. Also, Karthik can keep the wickets. We saw that during his time with Royal Challengers Bangalore,” Danish Kaneria said on his YouTube channel.

“Pant can be rested to bring in a player who can bat well in the middle order. Rohit, Virat, Suryakumar, and Rahul will return to the team soon… and Pant’s place will under major threat. Pant is an immense talent but he’s wasting it. The selection committee and management need to talk with Pant if they want to move on. That’s a possibility after the ongoing series,” he further added.

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Earlier, former India great Sunil Gavaskar had echoed similar sentiments about Rishabh Pant’s ongoing rut. The legendary batter had even questioned his mental toughness because he was not able to stop himself from falling into the same trap again and again.

“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 during his commentary stint on Star Sports.

“10 times, he has been dismissed wide outside off-stump. 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,” Gavaskar insisted.

South African great Dale Steyn was also critical of Rishabh Pant’s display against the Temba Bavuma-led side as he wasn’t able to avoid the temptation to play balls that were bowled out wide to him.

“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,” Dale Steyn told ESPNCricinfo.

Rishabh Pant will be back in action for the last game against South Africa at home on Sunday. The series-decider will take place at Bengaluru’s M. Chinnaswamy Stadium.

India Squad: Rishabh Pant(captain and wicketkeeper), Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ishan Kishan, Deepak Hooda, Shreyas Iyer, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Hardik Pandya (vice-captain), Venkatesh Iyer, Y Chahal, Axar Patel, R Bishnoi, Bhuvneshwar, Harshal Patel, Avesh Khan, Arshdeep Singh, Umran Malik

South Africa Squad: Temba Bavuma (captain), Quinton de Kock, Reeza Hendricks, Heinrich Klaasen, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Wayne Parnell, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Tristan Stubbs, Rassie van der Dussen, Marco Jansen