Rishabh Pant’s fearless batting has impressed chairman of selectors MSK Prasad, who now wants the youngster to complement it with quality glovework at the highest level.
The 20-year-old became the first Indian wicketkeeper to score a hundred in England during the Oval Test but was shoddy behind the stumps in the three Tests he played.
“I am really happy the way Rishab batted in the last Test in England. In fact we never had any doubts about his batting skills. My only concern is about his wicketkeeping,” Prasad told PTI.
However Prasad, a former India stumper himself, wants a training module to be created for Pant, wherein he hones his skills under specialist keeping coach.
“Now that he has the experience of three Test matches under his belt, he would have understood the areas that he needs to work on.
“We are also trying to put him under wicketkeeping specialist coach for some time. Along with Rishab we have identified few more upcoming wicketkeepers who need to be trained under a specialist coach. I expect Rishabh to serve Indian cricket for a long time,” Prasad said, laying out his plans.
The performance of the Indian openers was disappointing throughout the series, save KL Rahul’s 149 at the Oval, but Prasad pointed how even the England openers struggled.
“Yes, it is definitely a cause of concern. If you look at it whenever we have got that good start we went on to win the Test match. Having said that openers of both the teams struggled in this series due to tough conditions,” he said.
“After playing 160 Tests, a player of Alastair Cook’s calibre has failed throughout the series except the last Test. In his interview, Cook openly said that this was one of the toughest conditions he played in his entire career. So we should be a bit more considerate about our players,” he added.
Prithvi, Mayank’s time will come
However, Prasad assured that both Prithvi Shaw and Mayank Agarwal will get their due for stupendous show at the national and A level. “Yes I do agree that Mayank Agarwal and Prithvi Shaw have been consistently performing well at domestic and India A levels. They will get their dues.”
There has been a lot of criticism about Hardik Pandya’s all-round skills and the chairman of selectors feels that the flamboyant Baroda cricketer needs to be a bit more consistent.
“Hardik Pandya is an all-rounder in the making. He scored a century against Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka. He batted well against South Africa in the Cape Town Test and performed well both with bat and ball against England in Nottingham. This clearly shows that he can perform in all conditions.
“Only thing we expect from him is more consistency with both bat and ball. I am sure this tour would have been a big learning experience in his career. He will be a better player with the experience he has gained from this tour,” added Prasad.
Murali Vijay, after getting dropped from the Test team, has now gone back to county cricket and got fifty and hundred on debut for Essex. “I always believe that whenever a player is not among runs he needs to go back to first-class cricket to regain his form, be it Ranji Trophy or a county stint,” Prasad said.
While Ravichandran Ashwin has been panned by critics for his poor show in Southampton, Prasad feels that Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav are three top choices in the longest version of the game.
“I have no doubt in the abilities of Ashwin and Jadeja. Kuldeep also is in pipeline and had a good time with India A team against Australia A. I am sure all of them can deliver in any conditions,” he said.
However, Prasad refused to put a number on the chances that any player could be given before making a final assessment of his abilities. “I feel it is not appropriate to say that a player will be given only particular number of opportunities to establish. A good player understands the dynamics and demands of international cricket and quickly adapt to it. I always keep saying that time and again that as a selector we only select the players and it’s up to the players to make use of the opportunities.”
The chairman also echoed the sentiments of captain Virat Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri that 1-4 isn’t a reflection of how much effort the team put in. “It was a great series where the result of 1-4 is not the true reflection of the tough contest we had between the two teams. There were moments for us in this series which we could have capitalised.”
He added, “Bowling and slip catching has come up a long way in this series and we only need to bat well collectively when the team requires.”