Rohit Sharma backed wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant amidst criticism urging critics to “leave him alone” as the youngster is doing what he is told as per team management’s strategy.
Pant was criticised for sloppy glovework behind the stumps in the second T20I between India and Bangladesh in Rajkot which resulted in a no ball instead of a wicket.
Bangladesh opener Liton Das got a second lifeline as Pant had his gloves in front of the stumps by a whisker.
“You know there is a lot of talk happening about Rishabh Pant every day, every minute. I just feel that he needs to be allowed to do what he wants to do on the field. I would request everyone to keep their eyes away from Rishabh Pant for a while,” skipper Rohit at the press conference on Saturday.
“He is a fearless cricketer and we (team management) want him to have that freedom. And if you guys take your eyes off him for sometime, it will allow him to perform even better,” added Rohit.
Pant was recently by Wriddhiman Saha in the three-Test series against South Africa in October for his prowess with the gloves.
“He is a young guy, 22, trying to make his mark in international cricket. Every move he makes on the field, people start talking about him. It is not fair. I think we should allow him to play his cricket which actually he also wants to do,” Rohit didn’t mince his words while taking one the ones criticising Pant for his every misstep.
Pant has not been able to replicate his IPL performance in T20Is. He has scored 352 runs from 22 games at an average of 20.70 including two half-centuries. His ODI performances have not been impressive either. He is yet to score a half-century after playing 12 ODIs.
The stand-in Indian skipper wants people to focus on Pant’s good performances instead of highlighting his flaws.
“Focus on him a lot more when he is doing good things also, not just bad things. He has been learning, there have been times he has kept well also. He is trying to do what the team management wants him to do.”
Asked what his advice would be to the likes of Pant and Shreyas Iyer, who are trying to make a mark in international cricket, Rohit said both the players have it in them to serve the Indian team for a long time.
“Both of them are very talented, have great ability in whatever they do. Definitely the future of Indian cricket and they have proved that at all levels. Rishabh has been around for a year to two. Shreyas has been in and out but now he looks settled in ODIs, trying to make a mark in T20s.”
“All I would tell them is just understand your game which is very important in whatever format you play. Feeling confident about your game is very important. They are working hard towards their game so I don’t see any reason why they can’t get the results. They have everything to be successful at the international level. In a year or two you will see them batting differently,” said Rohit.