There was a time when Rishabh Pant was seen as a natural replacement for MS Dhoni. The Delhi wicketkeeper made a name for himself with some stunning innings in the Indian Premier League, and his aggressive style of play made him an ideal player for India to use as a lower-middle order batsman.
Pant’s dominant performances in the Test series against Australia in 2018/19 led to fans believing in him as the future of Indian cricket. But now, Pant has found himself being left out of the India limited-overs squads, due to inconsistent performances for more than a year.
Writing in a column for ESPNCricinfo, former India batsman Aakash Chopra said that Pant may be finding it hard to figure out his role and responsibilities to his own game.
“Going back to Pant – he comes across as someone who is confused about his role and his responsibilities towards his own game. I’m not talking about what the team or the situation demands of him but just his comfort with his own style of play,” Chopra said.
“His last couple of Test matches and this edition of the IPL have brought that uncertainty to the fore. He is blessed with the ability to hit the ball long and hard, but it seems that he is unsure of the right time to do so,” he added.
Chopra said that Pant, in the ongoing season of IPL, failed to make the best of the opportunities he had because he could not realise the perfect time for him to play his natural game.
“There have been instances in this IPL where left-arm spinners have come and gone unscathed. The bowlers he wouldn’t allow to settle down in the past have kept him quiet this season because he chose to let the moment pass and wait for a better, more opportune moment.
“Pant was Pant because he could change the tide, but now he’s trying to swim with it and by the time he thinks about changing it, it’s a little too late,” Chopra wrote.
Chopra further said that Pant needs to clear the doubts about his own game and bring out those nuances which make him the player everyone thought he is.
“It’s time for Pant to clear the cobwebs and spend more time with his own game, understanding its nuances.
“He is the same player who everyone thought had the X-Factor, he is the same player who was seen as a natural successor to Dhoni, and he is the same player who produced consistent performances at high strike rates in T20 cricket. He is the same player because you don’t lose these skills overnight,” he wrote.
“Pant has entered the second stage of his career. This phase is about understanding and acquiring. The sooner he does that, the better for him and for Indian cricket,” Chopra signed off.