Gautam Gambhir defends Rishabh Pant, directs barb at MS Dhoni ‘selecting series’https://indianexpress.com/article/sports/cricket/gautam-gambhir-defends-rishabh-pant-directs-barb-at-ms-dhoni-selecting-series-6031782/

Gautam Gambhir defends Rishabh Pant, directs barb at MS Dhoni ‘selecting series’

Gautam Gambhir said Rishabh Pant should be given a long rope and that it is the duty of Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri to guide him. He also said that MS Dhoni should take a decisive call on his future, saying, "If you play for India, you cannot select the series you want to play."

Master and Apprentice: MS Dhoni and Rishabh Pant (File Photo/Reuters)

Former India opener Gautam Gambhir feels it is not fair to criticise Rishabh Pant so early in his career and urged skipper Virat Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri to guide him on shot selection.

Pant, who is India’s first choice wicketkeeper in all three formats, received flak for his poor shot selection following a string of low scores in the recent limited over series against West Indies and South Africa.

“I feel if you focus solely on a young player, who has been in the international arena for just around a year, he will feel the pressure,” Gambhir said on the sidelines of an event.

“In such a short time, he (Pant) has smashed two Test tons. If you don’t find his shot selections ideal, it is his style of play. If you give him a chance in the team then kindly back him and it is wrong to criticise him so early.

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“Not only (Virat) Kohli but also coach Ravi Shastri should talk to Pant. It is the duty of the team management to personally talk to the player who is not in form or if he is not perfect with his shot selection as it would help him improve and regain his touch. There is a need to give him freedom,” he explained.

There has been a lot of speculation regarding former skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s retirement after he made himself unavailable for the series against West Indies and South Africa.

“I have always said that the decision to retire is anyone’s personal call. I feel the selectors should talk to Dhoni and ask him about his plans because if you play for India, you cannot select the series you want to play,” Gambhir said.

On the conflict of interest issue surrounding former captain Rahul Dravid, Gambhir said: “It is a tough question. Nothing could be better for the country and the youngsters if Dravid is the NCA coach.”

Jasprit Bumrah has been ruled out of the three-match home series against South Africa due to a back injury and Gambhir said India will miss the services of the experienced pacer.

“He is the number one bowler in Test cricket. Surely, the team will miss him. Bumrah is undoubtedly a great challenge for any team in any format of the game and his absence will affect the side,” said the Delhi batsman, who was part of India’s 2011 World Cup winning team.

Rohit Sharma has been included in the Test team as an opener and Gambhir said the Mumbaikar is ready for the challenge.

“Rohit slammed five centuries in the World Cup and so, his inclusion in the team is not a surprise,” he said.

“If you have drafted him in the team then you should include him in the playing XI as well as he is a great batsman and I think he is ready for the challenge.”