India stand-in coach VVS Laxman spoke about Rishabh Pant and addressed the long rope that has been handed to the young wicketkeeper batter. Pant has been around for a long time now, and while he has already stamped his authority in Tests having scored centuries in Australia, England and South Africa, the 25-year-old has failed to replicate the same success in limited-overs format. It’s not like his ODI record is bad – in 29 ODIs, he has 855 runs at an average of 35.62 – but it’s his numbers in T20Is that cuts an underwhelming figure.
Despite not being able to set the ODIs and T20Is on fire, Pant continues to be backed to the hilt. In the ongoing series against New Zealand, Pant has registered scores of 6, 11 and 15 in the three innings he has batted, whereas in the T20 World Cup, he scored 27 against South Africa, 3 against Zimbabwe and 6 in the semifinal against England. With the likes of Sanju Samson and Ishan Kishan breathing down his neck for a place in the Playing XI, Pant is running on thin ice. Laxman however, broke his silence and revealed why the team management continues to back Pant despite his string of low scores.
“It’s about giving them opportunities and also informing them whenever they aren’t picked. Pant has been doing well at no.4, not too long ago he scored an important century at Old Trafford and it’s important to back him. T20 cricket has given batters more confidence about clearing the grounds no matter how big the outfields are, they also work a lot with the range-hitting,” Laxman told Prime Video before the start of the third ODI between India and New Zealand in Christchurch.
Pant’s place in the India XI has come under scrutiny all the more due to the presence of Samson in the squad. The 28-year-old has had a fabulous start to his ODI career, having scored 330 runs from 11 matches at a fine average of 66, including two half-centuries. But while Samson continues to sit out – he only batted in the first ODI in Auckland – Pant continuously features in the Playing XI, something that has irked fans and surprised the commentators.
Laxman, who will return to the NCA to resume his role as its chief as the team tours Bangladesh for ODI and Test series, mentioned that he has cherished his role as India’s stand-in coach. Laxman has previously filled in for head coach Rahul Dravid in Zimbabwe, Ireland and during the home series against South Africa last month, and although the New Zealand series has been marred by rain, the former India batter is impressed with the current lot of youngsters in the Indian team.
“It has been disappointing weather-wise but hope we got a full game. It (coaching role) is fully satisfying, obviously it’s only a stop-gap arrangement but it’s been fun working with the young guys. It’s about the combination you want to play for each game. India is blessed to have a strong depth of talent and bench strength,” pointed out Laxman.