Rishabh Pant was leading Delhi in a Ranji Trophy game against Karnataka in Alur. His team was 400 runs behind and he was batting on 41. The left-hander is known for his hard-hitting abilities but this was an innings where he had tried to play the ball with caution and tried to get his head in. But, that moment, he missed an arm ball from offspinner K Gowtham and lost his stumps.
The story for Pant this season has been completely different from last one. He was among the best players with 872 runs at a strike rate of 107.28. He made his India debut against England in a T20I in February. But since the West Indies tour, he has not been picked up in the squad.
Delhi coach KP Bhaskar believes that Pant has a way to play and if he gets going, he can change the outcome of the game.
“His style is not to block and occupy the crease. He can change the whole outcome of the game in a few overs,” Bhaskar told ESPNcricinfo. “But shot selection is something he can work on, especially when playing for India and expectations are high. So then the responsibility automatically comes.”
The coach said that Pant plays his natural game and when he fails it can be frustrating but no one can force him to change the way he plays.
“He understands his role well. His coach at Sonnet Cricket Club, Mr. Tarak Sinha, I’m sure, is keeping in touch with him and working on his game, because with me it’s only during the season,” he said. “But I’m sure Sinha would be guiding and advising him. He is quite receptive, but you can only advise. You can’t really force him to change the way you want him to play.”
Last season, Pant scored run-a-ball triple century and was hailed for his potential to post a big score in quick time similar to Virender Sehwag. The former India cricketer had also praised Pant for this ability and Bhaskar says there is no point in asking him to change it.
“What we saw last year is that he has the staying power of scoring 300. So he can occupy the crease and score the big runs,” Bhaskar said. “There’s no point asking him to curb his instincts. Players like (Krishnamachari) Srikkanth, Sandeep Patil, Kapil Dev were natural stroke-makers. How can you force or stop them? It doesn’t make sense. He’s very natural that way.”
“He may not be showing it, but deep down I’m sure he must be feeling it. Now that he is out of the [India] side, he has realised it and I’m sure he must be working hard on his temperament,” Bhaskar said. “His body language is the same as it was last year, but he looks much fitter, and his keeping has definitely improved.
“I have always told him: it’s easy to play for India, but your preparations – mental, physical and technical – are what will help cement yourself. That’s more important. And age is by his side. His advantage is that he’s a keeper along with batsman. (MS) Dhoni has been around for some time, but once Dhoni hangs his boots, I’m sure he will be a prime man to fill his boots.”
(With ESPNcricinfo inputs)