Amid the criticism over his poor form, Rishabh Pant on Sunday (June 19) received words of encouragement from India head coach Rahul Dravid.
With the T20 World Cup 2022 barely a few months away, Dravid made it clear that the wicketkeeper-batter is a “big” and “integral” part of the set-up heading into the marquee event in Australia.
Pant, who led Team India in the five-T20I series against South Africa that ended in a 2-2 draw after the last game was abandoned due to rain, scored only 58 runs from five innings. As a result, questions were raised over his place in the shortest format.
“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 next few months,” Dravid said during the post-match press conference.
“I just don’t want to be critical. In the middle overs, you need people to play slightly attacking brand of cricket, to take the game on a little more. Sometimes it’s very hard to judge it based on two or three games,” he added.
In fact, Dravid was impressed with Rishabh’s strike rate of 151.78 during the IPL 2022, where he managed 340 runs from 13 innings while leading the Delhi Capitals.
“I think he had a pretty good IPL in terms of strike-rate even though it might not have looked good on averages. In IPL, he looked to move up a little bit (in terms of averages) and probably three years ago he was on those numbers. We are hoping that we can get those numbers from him at the international level.”
There is a risk factor that comes with Pant’s approach and Dravid is ready to back him.
“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,” he said.
Commenting on his captaincy, Dravid said Pant did well considering that India bounced back from 0-2 down to draw the series.
“To bring a team back from 0-2 down and to level it at 2-2 and give us a chance to win was good. Captaincy is not about wins and losses only. He (Pant) is a young captain, growing as leader. It is too early to judge him and you don’t want to do that after one series,” Dravid said.
“It was nice to see he has got opportunities to lead, keep and bat. He had a lot of load on him but gaining from that experience and credit to him for ensuring that we went from 0-2 down to 2-2,” he concluded.
(With PTI inputs)