When the 33-year-old Shikhar Dhawan injured his hand during India’s victory against Australia at the World Cup, it wasn’t long before Rishabh Pant was called up to the squad as his replacement.
The 21-year-old is noted for being a flamboyant wicketkeeper-batsman and had already shown his worth with an unbeaten 159 against Australia in Sydney earlier this year. Furthermore, the player had already made his Test debut in England last year, going on to score his maiden Test century during that series. His inclusion in the Indian World Cup team was a natural fit and one in which he will be looking to show his potential.
His Performance So Far
Pant has joined an Indian team that is having a strong World Cup this year. A post on bwin Cricket focusing on one of India’s upcoming games documents how a loss against England was their only defeat during the round robin stage. Pant made his World Cup debut in that match against England with an impressive performance despite the eventual defeat. This is due to the fact that he managed to score 32 runs off 29 balls, making an immediate impact. Former captain Sachin Tendulkar praised the youngster, going as far as saying “there wasn’t any doubt at all about Pant’s shot-making” and that a player like him “is only going to get better with time.”
The player quickly followed up this performance with 41-ball-48, this time in an Indian victory over Bangladesh only two days later. This garnered him more praise, with former all-rounder Yuvraj Singh hailing him as India’s future no. 4 batsman.
Areas for Improvement
Yet Pant is still not immune to criticism. According to a report from The Indian Express, fielding coach R Sridhar has observed that there is still room for improvement in his throwing technique. He also noted that the burly Pant needed to be more athletic in the outfield. “A lot of work has to go into him,” said Sridhar.
In line with this, Sridhar has compared the young player to veteran Dinesh Karthik. “Dinesh despite being a wicketkeeper is a good outfielder. He pulls off some good saves at backward point,” the coach said. “Rishabh is developing and he needs to do this a bit more to develop the awareness, to get a hang of it. That’s why we harp about getting fielders in same positions so that they get an idea.” Skipper Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni have also echoed the coach’s sentiments, having already identified a few specific fielding positions in the deep for the young player. Yet, despite the criticism there are signs that Pant could be a good outfielder. In his match against England, Sridhar noted how Pant saved at least 5 runs and took a catch.
Pant’s accomplishments have resulted in him already being pegged as one of the top upcoming youngsters in Indian cricket. His young age, combined with all he’s already accomplished in such a short career, even puts him as a leading candidate to replace MS Dhoni once the veteran retires. Though whether he can live up to all this expectation remains to be seen, the talent he’s displayed so far makes it more than likely. Overall, the World Cup has proven to be a good measure of the player he will become