Former India opener Gautam Gambhir on Sunday lent his support to young wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant, saying the Indian team management should make him feel wanted.
With the focus on next year’s 2020 T20 World Cup and given the uncertainty surrounding MS Dhoni’s future, young Pant has struggled with the bat during the limited-overs tour of West Indies and the ongoing South Africa tour.
Pant’s temperament and shot-selection have come under heavy scrutiny while new batting coach Vikram Rathour and head coach Ravi Shastri have spoken about decision-making skills.
However, Gambhir felt their comments were too harsh on the youngster.
“Personally, I have always backed Sanju Samson ahead of Rishabh for wicketkeeper-batsman’s role,” Gambhir wrote in his column for The Times of India. “But it is disappointing to see the team-management using words like ‘from fearless to careless’, ‘rap on Rishbah’s knuckles’ and ‘need for a backup of Rishabh’. This is no way to handle a young human resource. Everyone wants him to play ‘sensible’ cricket.”
Rathour had recently called for discipline from Indian batsmen and said, “All the young players need to understand that there is a fine line between fearless cricket and careless cricket.
“What the team management is asking from them is fearless cricket, having clear game-plans and playing with intent but at the same time, you can’t be careless. I am sure they are smart enough to understand that,” he had added.
Meanwhile, Shastri was of the view that Delhi cricketer had to improve his decision-making.
“We’ll let him be but at times when you see a shot, like the first-ball dismissal in Trinidad, if he repeats that, then he will be told. There will be a rap on the knuckles, talent or no talent. As simple as that,” Shastri was quoted as saying on Star Sports. “Because you are letting the team down, forget letting yourselves down. In a situation where you have the captain at the other end, a target to chase, the need of the hour is sensible cricket.”
Gambhir further stated that the youngster was playing to stake his place in the team rather than playing for himself.
“What I do know is that the boy is now playing for survival rather than scoring runs. From the outside, it seems that his mindset is all over the place. Someone needs to put an arm around his shoulder and tell him that he is wanted in the team,” Gambhir wrote.
All eyes will be on Pant once again as India take on South Africa in the final game of the three-match T20I series which the men in blue lead 1-0.