The positivity in the Indian dressing room is infectious – Pant
The Indian Premier League has been a turning ground for a lot of youngsters keen to stage their talent and hone their skills. It’s been a platform that has given the senior men’s cricket team, talented candidates who have proved their mettle at the big stage.
Rishabh Pant too grabbed eye-balls this season, when he amassed 684 runs for Delhi Daredevils and was a lone ranger for the team in terms of scoring quick runs.
The 20-year old youngster, after cementing his spot in the list A games for his state, is now on course to grab a spot in the senior men’s team. After having made his T20 debut last year, Pant was recently named in the Test squad for India against England as an understudy to Dinesh Karthik. He showed great potential with red ball cricket against England Lions at Worcester and scored a fighting half-century in an otherwise poor show by India A. His 58 failed to save India A the blushes, but his inclusion in the Test side for the first time promises a productive season for the young gun.
Cricket pundits have been of the view that, if given an opportunity, Pant has the potential to be as dangerous as Adam Gilchrist batting at No 6 and 7 for India.
India ‘A’ and U-19 coach, Rahul Dravid too was all praise for Pant and iterated that, “He is a very talented player. He showed in three or four innings that he was willing to bat differently. We all know the way he bats. Even in the 2017-18 Ranji Trophy season when he got over to 900 runs his S/R was 100 plus and we have seen him bat similarly in the IPL as well.
He has the temperament and skills to bat differently. He is always going to be an attacking player but reading of the situation when you are playing red ball cricket is required. We are glad he has been picked into the national team and I hope he takes this maturity into the national team and hopefully builds from thereon.”
We at BCCI.TV caught up with the youngster and found out about his performances, preparations and keenness to learn from this Indian dressing room.
What was your first reaction when you heard about your inclusion in the Indian Test squad?
It was a great feeling to hear that I had been included in the Indian Test squad. I always wanted to be a part of the Indian Test squad and it was more like a dream come true for me. It was an amazing feeling, not only for me but also for my family and my coach Tarek Sinha sir, who helped me understand the game very early in my life. He has always wanted me to play Test cricket for India and when I got the call, he was very happy and proud and I enjoyed that moment. You had a great run of form in the IPL, followed by your inclusion in the India A squad for one-day fixtures and then you were also included in the four-day match too. Tell us what is the difference in preparation when it comes to white ball and red ball cricket.
I reckon there isn’t too much difference, but it has got more to do with shot selection. In red ball cricket, with the field placements, you can look around; take your time, because you have five days to play. Whereas in limited overs cricket you have limited number of balls to play and score.
I have so far enjoyed my preparation with red ball cricket. The duke ball swings a lot when you’re here in England and initially when I started playing here with India A, I realized that the swing will come a lot into play in these conditions. The cricket pundits have been comparing you with the legendary Adam Gilchrist. Thoughts?
I always see everything as an opportunity coming my way. Especially as a wicket-keeper batsman in India, wherein, there aren’t too many options for the spot. Therefore, whatever opportunity I get, I try and optimize it.
Adam Gilchrist has been my idol when it comes to keeping wickets and I used to watch him all the time as a youngster. But, at this moment, I’m learning a lot from people around me like Rahul Dravid Sir, Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli and I try and improve my game every day.
How was your experience with the India A, especially with Rahul Dravid around?
The only thing he always tells me is that you need to be patient about everything, be it on the field or off it. Also, how I need to work harder on my game when it comes to red ball cricket since I’m a positive batsman, but at times you need to play to the situation. See the pace of the game and change your game accordingly. These have been my learning from him wherein he has helped me a lot. Learning from the Indian dressing room so far?
Every time I come to the Indian dressing room, there is one thing that has always stood out for me. It is the positivity in the dressing room. Everyone is supporting and backing each other, which is the most important factor about this Indian dressing room. And, like always, whenever I needed any support from Mahi bhai, I used to ask him. From my IPL contract to my wicket-keeping, he’s advised me on everything.
He’s always told me that when it comes to wicket-keeping, your hands and head is important, the body balance can come into play later, but the key is the hands and head coordination. I worked on what he told me and it has helped me a lot.
You’ve spent a lot of time in England and this is going to be a huge benefit. Tell us about those knock against England Lions and the second four-day game against West India A and the confidence you gathered from it?
Whenever I walk into bat, I go with the mindset of what the team needs from me. In the game against West Indies A, there was a situation wherein I had to be more patient because there were enough overs and therefore I took my time and got India home.
Also, in the game against England Lions, India A were not in a good position. We had lost four to five wickets and Ajju bhaiya (Ajinkya Rahane) and I were batting and I had to play according to the situation. So, I thought I’m going to take my own time and get set because in red ball cricket that’s what you do – you need to take your own time and play as per the situation.
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