Delhi Capitals’ wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant has had a mercurial start to his Indian Premier League campaign, cooling off after a swatting a brutal 78* off 27 balls in his opening game.
Since his scintillating start the young wicketkeeper has faltered, averaging just 19.60 in his past five innings. Pant had a breakthrough year in 2018, blasting 684 runs at a strike rate of 173.60 in the IPL and establishing himself as a fixture in India’s Test and Twenty20 sides. He was named ICC's emerging cricketer of the year for 2018.
But he is yet to establish himself in ODIs, and with the Men’s Cricket World Cup fast approaching, much is being made of whether Pant will make it into India’s squad. Former India captain Kris Srikkanth has offered a glowing endorsement of Pant’s potential.
“If there is one Indian cricketer in the IPL and Indian cricket who can emulate a [Keiron] Pollard or a [Andre] Russell, it’s Rishabh Pant,” Srikkanth wrote in Times of India. “I firmly believe that he is one cricketer in India who could win his side – be it Delhi Capitals or the Indian team – games from hopeless situations.”
However, Srikkanth also warned that Pant needed to rein in his attacking instincts at the start of innings. “This kid has it in him, but from my observation, I feel that he doesn’t give himself enough time to showcase his talent in the middle,” he said. “He goes too hard right at the start.
“He needs to play in the ‘V’ the first few balls, irrespective of the format, maybe push the ball towards long-on and long-off frequently and get his eye in.
“He has great ability and a range of shots to make it up in the end. And also with Pollard and Russell, they target the straight boundaries, long-on, long-off and slightly towards mid-wicket. Pant needs to take a leaf out of Pollard and Russell’s book.”
Lead image - AFP