India wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant did not have a positive outing in the recently concluded 5-match ODI series against Australia. The left-handed batsman, who played the final two ODIs after MS Dhoni was lifted, received flak for his work behind the stumps and failed to contribute with the bat. In two games, he scored just 52 runs at an average of 26 as India lost the series 3-2. Despite the failings, Delhi Capitals head coach Ricky Ponting said that he is the only choice for India as the second wicketkeeper going into the World Cup.
Speaking to Times of India, the former Australian great said: “I think it’s actually a big job for me and the coaches when he comes in, to make him forget what’s happened in the last few days. He’s probably lucky it happened in the last couple of games. It would have been hard to play all five games under that kind of pressure.”
The former two-time winning World Cup-winning captain added that Pant will enjoy returning to the format he enjoys best and will gain confidence in the upcoming season of IPL. “Now he’s back in a competition where he has dominated in the past. If he can win a couple of games for us then everything will be forgotten. I can’t see anyone better than him as a second wicketkeeper in that Indian World Cup squad,” he said.
With the World Cup set to begin from May 30, the teams will have to work alongside national boards on the workload management of the players. Addressing the same, Ponting said: “Most teams didn’t go near any of the Australian players at the auction for that reason. We might be a little bit lucky, we don’t have too many of them…Shikhar, Rabada, Rishabh, Boult. We know about the foreign players but we aren’t sure what the Indian players’ workload management issues are going to be.”
He added: “We haven’t got any Indian bowlers who are part of the World Cup. Workload stuff concerns bowlers more than batsmen. One thing you can’t afford is injuries to your main fast bowlers.”
On being questioned if the workload management can cause friction between national team management and IPL franchises, the coach said: “I haven’t come across that. I’m sure if Rishabh Pant at the end of this IPL has a hamstring issue, our fitness guys are probably going to get a tap on the shoulder.”
Comparing Tendulkar and Kohli
On being questioned about who is a better batsman between India skipper Virat Kohli and Sachin Tendulkar, Ponting said: He (Tendulkar) was technically the more sound. He was very still, very steady. Virat is the flashier of the two. He has more square-of-the wicket shots, while Sachin was more a down-the-line, play in the ‘V’ sort of player. This is where it is hard to compare the two. Different eras, different wickets, everything is different.”
He added: “I can relate to Virat because when I watch him play, I think a lot of his attitude is similar to mine. On the field, he is aggressive, wears his heart on his sleeve, (though) his body language can get out of control sometimes. That is like me… I was the same.”
The 44-year-old further said that India will win the World Cup if Kohli scored big runs in the tournament. “I don’t think we can get to the conclusion (of who is better between the two) till Virat’s career is over. Only then will we have a clearer picture. Sachin is a legend. Yes, you can say Virat is piling up runs. His Test average is more than 50 (53.76). But Sachin maintained that (average) in 200 Tests. Virat’s ODI record, though, is unbelievable. That’s why I feel India are a very dangerous side. If Virat has a good World Cup, India will win,” he said.
I don’t think we can get to the conclusion till Virat’s career is over. Only then will we have a clearer picture. Sachin is a legend. Yes, you can say Virat is piling up runs. His Test average is more than 50 (53.76). But Sachin maintained that (average) in 200 Tests. Virat’s ODI record, though, is unbelievable. That’s why I feel India are a very dangerous side. If Virat has a good World Cup, India will win.”