There might be a growing voice in favour of putting Rishabh Pant’s T20I returns for India under the scanner, but head coach Rahul Dravid says the player is going nowhere and remains a crucial part of the team’s plans in the near future.
Dravid termed Pant a “big” factor in India’s planning and preparations heading into the 2022 T20 World Cup in October/November and reinforced that the team management stands firmly behind their mighty talented but currently underperforming wicketkeeper-batter.
A section of prominent faces outside the set-up have demanded better, consistent performances out of Pant or else for him to be shown the door. But Dravid said from the inside that can’t even be a consideration at this stage.
“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 told the press after the rain-abandoned fifth T20I on June 19 against South Africa, with the five-match series ending 2-2.
Dravid emphasized that his philosophy as a coach, be it now with the Indian team and previously with the U19 and India A teams, has never been to judge a particular player from one series. It is why he opted to persist with the same playing XI through the span of the South African series. I
t is most pertinent in the case of an aggressive player such as Pant, who has to often come in and look to take on the bowling immediately.
“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,”
With spotlight on Pant collecting only 58 runs over five innings of the T20I series, Dravid decided to focus on his IPL exploits recently as the Delhi Capitals skipper.
The India great said while the average may not have been high, since Pant could manage a season of scoring in excess of 300 runs with a strike-rate past 150, he did an influential job for his team.
“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,”
“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,”Dravid added on Pant, who made 340 runs at a strike-rate of 151.78 in IPL 2022.
Dravid was also pleased with the captaincy of Pant throughout the series. Leading an understrength Indian side, Pant led India’s valiant comeback to winning ways after going down 2-0 in the five-match series. The head coach, however, said it would be “too early” to judge Pant as skipper on the basis of one series and it’s important to give him the space he needs to prosper as a player and captain.
India’s caravan towards the T20 World Cup now moves to Ireland in less than a week’s time via a two-match T20I series in Malahide, with games scheduled on June 26 and 28.