Ravi Shastri, the India head coach, had stern words for Rishabh Pant, urging the big-hitting wicket-keeper batsman to be smarter with his shot selection.
Pant, 21, is seen as one of India’s brightest hopes. While he already has two hundreds in 11 Tests, he is considered an especially explosive force in limited-overs cricket, as reflected in a strike-rate of 161.03 in Twenty20 cricket.
However, in his short India career so far, he has been guilty of wasting starts, giving in to the temptation to attack all the time. Shastri, while insisting that the team did not want the youngster to change his style, demanded more responsibility from him.
He gave the example of Pant’s first-ball dismissal in the third one-day international against West Indies recently to explain his criticism. In that match, Pant, coming out at No.4, with the team 91/2 in a chase of a DLS-adjusted 255 from 35 overs, danced down the track to his first ball off left-arm spinner Fabian Allen, mistimed his shot, and was caught for a duck.
“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,” Shastri said.
“As simple as that. 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,” he added.
“The only expectation from Rishabh is that he read situations well. We don’t expect him to play the way you might be thinking. It is about analysing a situation and dealing with it in your own way,” captain Virat Kohli added.
Both captain and coach, though, reiterated their faith in Pant, whose highest score in 12 ODIs is 48, and has two fifties in T20Is. “No one will even think of changing his style. Like Virat said, reading the situation, match-awareness and shot-selection becomes crucial. If he can fathom that, he could be unstoppable,” said Shastri.