Virat Kohli’s childhood coach Rajkumar Sharma has become the latest former cricketer to slam India wicketkeeper-batter Rishabh Pant who has not been among the runs of late.
“Rishabh Pant’s on-field performances have not been satisfactory at all. It is very unfortunate, as he has been given a long rope by the team management. We all know how Virat Kohli showed great faith in Pant during his captaincy. And even after that, he kept on getting many chances. While he has done quite well in red-ball cricket, he has failed to deliver in white-ball cricket,” Rajkumar Sharma said during a discussion on India News.
“There is no harm in going back and playing domestic cricket when you are not in form. It is always better to work on your basics if you can see that you are struggling in terms of stroke-making. He should play domestic cricket and then make a comeback to the national side,” Rajkumar Sharma summed up.
Notably, Rishabh Pant is the only India wicketkeeper batter to score hundreds in South Africa, England, and Australia in the longest format of the game but his numbers in limited-overs cricket have been criticized.
In the T20I and ODI series against New Zealand that concluded on Wednesday, the left-hand attacking batter failed to get going, ending the tour with only 42 runs in four innings across the two formats.
Rishabh Pant scored a disappointing 10, 6, 11, and 15 runs in his four knocks in New Zealand.
Even the legendary Krishnamachari Srikkanth lashed out at Rishabh Pant for wasting his opportunities and urged the national selectors to give him a break from the side.
“Maybe you can give him (Pant) a break and tell him ‘just wait a bit, come and play in India’, they haven’t handled him well. Are you going to wait for a couple of matches before giving him a break or remove him after one or two games?” Krishnamachari Srikkanth said on his YouTube channel.
“Yes, Rishabh Pant is not utilising the chances he’s getting. I am very disappointed – ennada Pant-u (what is this Pant)?,” he added.
“You are messing up these chances. If you smash into such matches, it’ll be good right? The World Cup is coming up. Already a lot of people are saying that Pant isn’t scoring so it’ll add fuel to the fire,” Krishnamachari Srikkanth stated.
“He’s going to put pressure on himself. He needs to reinvent himself. He has to do something right – stand and play for a while and then go for it… He’s throwing his wicket away all the time,” Krishnamachari Srikkanth pointed out.
Identical views were shared by former India opener Aakash Chopra who said that while there was little doubt about Rishabh Pant’s talent, he was yet to fulfill his potential.
He further stated that the left-hander was yet to shine in limited-overs cricket and soon the Indian team management will have to take a call regarding his future in national ODI and T20I sides.
“As of now everyone believes that he (Pant) is a special player, extremely talented, is an X-factor kind of cricketer, but he hasn’t lived up to the reputation in white-ball cricket thus far,” Aakash Chopra said on his YouTube channel.
“In Tests, today also Rishabh Pant is not only India’s but the world’s best wicketkeeper-batter. Not many top-order batters have played more dynamic and impactful knocks than him, forget about a keeper. But the truth is that he has not done that good a job in ODIs and T20s considering the opportunities he has got,” said the former India opener.
Despite Rishabh Pant’s lean patch with the bat, India skipper Shikhar Dhawan and coach VVS Laxman were keen on sticking with the southpaw for a few more matches as they consider him a match-winner.
“It’s not that tough. Like in Rishabh’s case, he played the one-dayers in England and scored a century there. And a player who gets a 100 gets backing. Everything is done keeping the larger picture in mind. If there is a match-winner, you have to back him. A decision is taken after analysing a lot of things,” Shikhar Dhawan explained his decision during the post-match press conference after the third game of the ODI series was called off due to inclement weather with the Kiwis winning the series 1-0.
“Of course, Sanju is doing really well. Whatever opportunities he has gotten, he has done well but sometimes despite performing well, a player has to wait because the one before him has been doing well. The skill he (Pant) has, we know that he is a match-winner. Certain cushioning needs to be given that cushioning when he isn’t performing. So that cushioning is given to that player,” Shikhar Dhawan signed off.
“It’s about giving them opportunities and also informing them whenever they aren’t picked. Pant has been doing well at no.4, not too long ago he scored an important century at Old Trafford and it’s important to back him. T20 cricket has given batters more confidence about clearing the grounds no matter how big the outfields are, they also work a lot with the range-hitting,” VVS Laxman said in an interaction with Prime Video.