High on confidence after his maiden Test ton against England at The Oval last week, Rishabh Pant is now keen to improve his wicket-keeping skills ahead of the home Test series against West Indies, slated to start on October 4.
Pant is planning to train at the NCA Bengaluru by keeping on tracks that offer turn. Rajkot and Hyderabad will host the two Test matches against West Indies next month.
“In India, the wickets are expected to be different from England or may be like the one at the Oval. I plan to to visit NCA before the series and keep on tracks where there will be roughs,” Pant told PTI.
After making his international debut in T20s last year, Pant was handed his maiden Test cap during the third Test against England at Trent Bridge. Known for his swashbuckling batting style, Rishabh impressed one and all on his Test debut as he smashed English leg-spinner Adil Rashid for a gigantic six in the very second ball of his innings. Moreover, he took seven catches behind the stumps and India eventually won the Test match by 203 runs.
Having kept against Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja in England, Pant has got a fair bit of idea as to what he needs to do while keeping up to quality spinners.
“I have kept up to senior spinners (Ashwin and Jadeja) in the nets apart from the Tests in England. Like Oval strip, where Jaddu bhai was bowling, it felt like an India pitch. The ball was turning and on fourth and fifth day, there were spots,” he asserted.
Pant said he can’t fight the perceptions that a scorecard can create by showing 76 byes against his name. In all fairness, some of the deliveries bowled by the Indian pacers were extremely wayward and certainly an impossible task for any glovesman to stop those.
“Obviously, you can get frustrated as a wicketkeeper. May be (all those byes) was not my fault but if someone is not watching the match, he would look only at the scorecard. Only those who saw the match would know that some of those were out of my reach. “Now on this issue, I can’t debate or even reason with people whether I conceded those byes or not. It was part of the game,” Rishabh stated.
He also explained some of the practical difficulties that a keeper can face in England where the red Duke ball swings even after leaving the stumps.
“You need to cut down the angles (positioning) in England but then Indian pacers are a bit different from English pacers. The pace of our bowlers is more than English seamers. All our bowlers (Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami) consistently clock 140 plus and at that speed the ball comes with a wobbly seam once it leaves the stumps. I gave my hundred percent. But some of it was beyond my control and I would rather not speak about it,” he elaborated.
During the fifth day of the Oval Test, Rishabh Pant alongside KL Rahul dominated the English attack. In particular, Pant went berserk and scored 89 runs in the session to complete his maiden Test century. Rishabh’s knock of 114 runs was laced 15 fours and 4 sixes. Moreover, he also became the first Indian keeper to score a Test hundred on English soil.
Talking about his innings, Pant said: “My mindset has always been same for every match that I play. In the first two Tests, I got starts but couldn’t capitalise on those starts. That day, I did the same things but I capitalised on the chances and was a bit more disciplined in my approach. The result was a good partnership with KL Rahul.”
Prior to the England Test series, India A coach Rahul Dravid had said that Pant is ready for Test cricket as he can mould his game according to the situation.
“I worked on my temperament and tried to curb my natural instinct to hit every ball. Rahul sir told me that the more quickly I can change my game as per situations, the better I will become as a player. That was the focus. I implemented it during the India A (‘Tests’ vs England Lions) games and Rahul sir possibly saw that and reached a conclusion,” Rishabh Pant signed-off.