Stand-in India captain Rohit Sharma on Saturday strongly backed Rishabh Pant, who is under the scanner, urging critics to “leave him alone” as he is only trying to execute the team management’s strategy.
Pant, who is underfire for his shot selection on several occasions, became the centre of unwanted attention due to his poor glovework in the second T20I against Bangladesh in Rajkot.
He botched up a stumping of Liton Das with the third umpire ruling that his hands were slightly in front of the stumps, when he dislodged the bails.
“There is a lot of talk happening about Rishabh Pant every day, every minute,” Sharma said. “I just feel that he needs to be allowed to do what he wants to do on the field. I would request everyone to keep their eyes away from Rishabh Pant for a while.”
“He is a fearless cricketer and we [team management] want him to have that freedom. And if you guys take your eyes off him for sometime, it will allow him to perform even better” Rohit said a day before the series deciding third T20I against Bangladesh in Bangalore.
Not so long ago, Pant was the preferred choice in all three formats but Wriddhiman Saha played ahead of him in the three Tests against South Africa at home last month only on the basis of superior glovework.
“He is a young guy, 22, trying to make his mark in international cricket,” he said. “Every move he makes on the field, people start talking about him. It is not fair. I think we should allow him to play his cricket which actually he also wants to do.”
With the bat, he has not been able to carry his Indian Premier League form into the T20 Internationals, having scored 352 runs in 22 games at 20.70. In 12 ODIs, he has scored 229 runs at 22.90.
In fact, Rohit said that just like his unimpressive performances are highlighted, there should be focus on good things also.
“Focus on him a lot more when he is doing good things also, not just bad things. He has been learning, there have been times he has kept well also. He is trying to do what the team management wants him to do.”