Batting legend VVS Laxman reckons Rishabh Pant is running out of time to justify his place in India’s limited-overs team and the young wicketkeeper might lose his spot to Sanju Samson if he doesn't regain his form soon.
"The team management and the selection committee have passed on a strong message that we got a backup in the form of Sanju Samson. Rishabh Pant has been given a lot of opportunities and I'm sure that they will be communicating and giving him that security within that group," Laxman told 'Star Sports'.
"But then ultimately the player has to justify the faith the team management, the selection committee has been imposing on him," he said.
"Unfortunately, Rishabh hasn't been able to do that, but he is that X factor. I still feel that he is an exclusive batsman who can come and change the course of the match just by his ability to hit good balls out of the park."
Pant had a tough time in the three-match T20I series against Bangladesh earlier this month. His lack of judgement while going for the Decision Review System (DRS) calls was a major factor behind India’s seven-wicket defeat in the first T20I in Delhi.
Moreover, the 22-year-old grabbed the headlines in the second T20I at Rajkot by collecting the ball in front of the stumps, thereby missing Liton Das' stumping. In the decider at Nagpur, Rishabh perished while attempting a slog and he finished the series with 33 runs to his name.
Before that series, the left-hander had featured in three T20Is against South Africa and registered the scores of 4 and 19 from two innings.
"As a batsman - there's no clarity of thoughts, there's no doubt that he's under pressure, because how many times have you seen Rishabh Pant, when he is in full flow, play and he has a different mindset and technique against the spinners. I feel he will be under tremendous pressure to retain his place in the playing eleven," Laxman said.
Pant was overlooked for the home Tests against South Africa and Bangladesh with veteran wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha back in the team after recovering from shoulder injury.
Although Laxman believes Rishabh is still India's first-choice wicketkeeper batsman ahead of Samson for next year's T20 World Cup, he still hasn’t ruled out MS Dhoni’s chances of making it to the squad for the showpiece event.
"I think MS Dhoni will wait with patience to see the performance of Rishabh Pant and Sanju Samson. Whenever he gets an opportunity and he will take a call after the IPL because the way I am seeing it, MS Dhoni is preparing himself for the IPL. I'm sure he will do well like he has done whenever he plays and leads CSK," said Laxman about Dhoni's future.
"If both these youngsters don't grab their opportunities, probably there is a thought that MS Dhoni can come back provided he shows that form in the IPL leading up to the World Cup.
"At the moment Rishabh Pant would be the first choice, his back up would be Sanju Samson and if both these youngsters don't grab these opportunities then you can probably look at MS Dhoni, keeping mind how he performs in the IPL," he added.
(With PTI inputs)