After his heroics in the Test series in Australia, Rishhabh Pant is being widely regarded as one of the rising stars of Indian cricket team. In 7 innings, the left-handed batsman struck 350 runs at an average of 58.33, including an unbeaten 159 at SCG. The 21-year-old has been compared with the former wicketkeeping greats MS Dhoni and Adam Gilchrist. But the keeper insisted that even though he admires the legends, he wants to be his own self.
Speaking to Times of India in an interview, the keeper said, “I do idolize Gilchrist and Mahi bhai (Dhoni). But that doesn’t mean I want to become that same person. It’s not about copying your idol. It’s more about learning things from them. I want to be myself. I want to be Rishabh Pant.”
The youngster, who was crticised early in his career for his being reckless on the field, insists that he has grown with age and circumstances since the U-19 World Cup in Bangladesh three years ago. “I had to change myself as a person after my father passed away two years ago. I do realize what responsibility is,” he said. But Pant insisted that if anyone provokes him, he ensures he gives it back straight away.
“If someone provokes me, I’ll give it back. I had a duty to do for my team. But I know the code of conduct. I remember my values. I have sledged and people have actually loved it,” he said.
Talking about his antics with Australia skipper Tim Paine during the Australia tour, which earned him the title of “babysitter”, Pant said: “That my mother and sister enjoyed it makes me happy.”
The batsman credited IPL for making him accustomed to the new-found fame. “IPL has helped me get used to fame and money. Fame will come as you play more. But you have to know where you need to draw a line. Yes, I can’t go out much now, but you will have to find a way to be the same,” he said.
At a young age, Pant has faced question over his ability to spend time in the middle and not play loose shots. Against Australia, many criticised him for coming out to Nathan Lyon and giving away his wicket. But the left-handed batsman insisted that he was playing as per the team required him to. “I could have easily come back unbeaten but I played the situation and followed what the team had asked of me,” he said.
On criticisms over his keeping skills, he said: “If someone really wants to help me then he can always come to me. You can’t just criticize from a distance and then not help. I can’t go up to big names just like that. Adam Gilchrist came to me by himself. We couldn’t spend much time but (now) I can go to him whenever I need help,” he said.
Pant added that he always falls back on advices from Delhi coach Tarak Sinha and former Delhi keeper Devender Sharma. “There is only one coach for me. I listen to everyone and then talk to Tarak sir. Devender sir has always taken care of me – be it my accommodation or helping in buying my first car,” he said.