Rishabh Pant’s inexperience of playing under pressure at the big stage came to the fore when India took on England in the Birmingham ICC Men Cricket World Cup 2019 clash against hosts England on Sunday. But India’s vice-captain Rohit Sharma defended the Delhi left-hander, saying that he just needed more confidence.
Asked if he was surprised to see Rishabh at the critical No. 4 position, Rohit paused before replying sarcastically, “Not really because all you guys wanted Rishabh Pant to play, right. All you guys, right, from India? Where is Rishabh Pant? Where is Rishabh Pant? There he is at Number 4.”
Pant’s exclusion at the expense of Vijay Shankar was a widely debated topic at the start of the tournament in the United Kingdom. The No. 4 made 32 off 29 balls on his World Cup debut at Edgbaston on Sunday.
Rohit, however, feels that the 21-year old lacks confidence and would do when he doesn’t play under pressure. “He just needs confidence because, obviously, playing his first game, expecting a lot is not right at the moment from him, but he should just come and play and enjoy his cricket. When he does that, he will do well,” he said.
“I think, for someone like him also to come and play, he needs to spend some time in the middle and see what the pitch is doing, get used to the condition as quickly as possible,” he said. “So I think it was the right move for him to come at that number (4) because, again, we know what he can do with the bat.
When asked if he felt that India are still struggling to find the No. 4 solution, Rohit responded by saying, “There is no uncertainty. I mean, I thought we made it very clear at the start that Vijay (Shankar) would play, but before the game he got a toe issue. He got hit on his toe by Jasprit in the net session, so he was not fully fit for this particular game. Again, every team will have one or two or three unsettled players. That is what it is,” he said.
Defending Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, the vice-captain said, “When Kuldeep and Chahal came to bowl, they already got off to a decent start, and they didn’t allow them to settle down, which was, I think, a tactical move from their side against our two spinners.”
“But it was just an off day for these two guys. We have seen them bowl in tandem really well and put pressure on the batting unit, the opposition rather. Like I said, the England team, they played complete cricket. They bowled really well. They batted really well. They got the result,” he added.
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