Fans were left furious with India coach Rahul Dravid’s comments about Rishabh Pant’s chances of featuring in the T20 World Cup in Australia later this year. The 24-year-old who captained the Men in Blue in the recently-concluded T20I series against South Africa looked completely out of sorts with the bat in the five matches at home. Due to his poor batting performances, Rishabh Pant was slammed heavily both by the fans and former cricketers. Some of the legends of Indian cricket, including Sunil Gavaskar, Zaheer Khan, and Irfan Pathan even questioned his place in India’s T20I team. Irfan Pathan went on to the extent of calling for his non-inclusion in the national team squad for the T20 World Cup Down Under. But Rahul Dravid has backed Rishabh Pant to deliver the goods for India and declared that there was no threat to his place in the team.
“In the process (of playing an attacking game), he might go wrong in a few games but he remains an integral part of our batting line-up with the power he has, and the fact that he is a left-hander is important to us in the middle overs, he played some good knocks,” Rahul Dravid said on Sunday
“Personally, he would have liked to score a few more runs but it is not concerning him. Certainly, he is a very big part of our plans going ahead in the next few months,” the former batting stalwart who has more than 13,000 Test runs to his name added.
Rahul Dravid, however, earned the wrath of Indian fans for voicing his support for Rishabh Pant because they believe having the left-hander in the Indian squad for the T20 World Cup isn’t a good omen.
“This is why India will not win the world cup. We need players who is more suited in T20 and is in good form. Pant suited well in test or ODI, not T20. World Cup is not something u play to develop players, it’s something u play to win. We need a coach who knows how to win,” a fan said on Twitter.
“But he needs to start playing like a mature cricketer now, he has played many matches now, enough of cakewalk for him in white ball, Rutu looks like he’s not ready for international stage I’ve seen only a single performance of him playing for India,” another wrote on the micro-blogging platform.
“23 Avg 124 SR after 47 matches which comes down to 17 Avg. 110 SR if we remove WI. Unreal backing….only if other players had the same privilege,” a third claimed.
Will be a Disaster from dravid if he plays him ahead of sky,dk and jadeja. #RishabhPant
— Saket Kumar (@CricketF4) June 19, 2022
Time to have Sanju Samson as a long term had enough of Pant he is pathetic in T20i
— Roshmi (@CricCrazyRoshmi) June 20, 2022
Looks like we will not even reach Semifinals. Disastrous to keep him in the squad.
— Sanu (@sanu_sense) June 20, 2022
On the other hand, former India pacer Ashish Nehra suggested that Rishabh Pant could miss the flight to Australia because his T20I form is not as good as the other wicketkeepers in the team.
“Right from day one we knew he(Pant) is going to be popular. He came the first day and then got dropped as he flopped initially. Then he came back and made a name for himself. I am very sure he will be disappointed with the kind of T20 numbers he had.”
“The question this person asked was ‘can Team India play T20 cricket without Pant? Yes, Why Not. T20 World Cup is very far away. There is no stamp that says Pant will surely play the T20 World Cup. He can also get injured. But there are a lot of games in between. We will have ten T20Is and then the Asia Cup,” Ashish Nehra said on Cricbuzz.
“One good thing about Pant is that he plays all three formats. Others play only T20I, and if they don’t perform well in these limited chances, they will have some problems. You have Ishan Kishan, Sanju Samson. You also have Dinesh Karthik,” Nehra further said.
Meanwhile, former India fast bowler Irfan Pathan and India’s former batting coach Sanjay Bangar urged the national team management to try Rishabh Pant as an opener.
“We’re talking about off-side (problem) for a long time now. But when does it happen? When the field opens up. Can we use Rishabh Pant in the powerplay where the bowlers can’t give enough width? Yes, there will be challenge because the ball will swing early on, but then, Rishabh Pant is a quality batter. He has scored nearly 3,500 international runs in his short career. So, I’m thinking along those lines. It may not be right now, but maybe in the future,” Irfan Pathan said.
“I’ve been thinking about it for 3 years. If you look at Sachin Tendulkar’s career, he hit his first century in his 75th or 76th innings when he was asked to open the innings against New Zealand after batting largely in the middle-order. Right now, the Indian team is looking at a left-right combination. Yes, Ishan Kishan is doing good right now, but if the Indian team is eyeing a left-right opening pair for the long term, Rishabh Pant can do the same job that someone like Adam Gilchrist did for Australia,” Sanjay Bangar told Star Sports .