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  5. India hell-bent on persisting with Rishabh Pant in limited-overs but is he the only option?

India hell-bent on persisting with Rishabh Pant in limited-overs but is he the only option?

Ravi Shastri and Virat Kohli asked Rishabh Pant to be more aware of the match situation and play maturely instead of playing rash shots.

India TV Sports Desk India TV Sports Desk
New Delhi Published on: September 16, 2019 10:07 IST
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If not Rishabh Pant then who? A look at India's other wicketkeeper-batsmen

Rishabh Pant has been handed a timely warning ahead of the T20I series against South Africa as both coach Ravi Shastri and captain Virat Kohli as both asked him to be a bit more responsible with the bat.

Pant has been called out for playing careless cricket time and again and by doing so, has handed his wicket away at crucial situations, thus putting others around him under pressure. While his batting in Test cricket remains a positive, his swashbuckling brand of cricket and failure more often than not has certainly earned him some doubters. So far, Pant has played 12 ODIs and scored just 229 runs at an average of 22.9 and a highest of 48. In T20Is, the average dips a point below to 21.57 from 18 games.

While the duo praised the young wicketkeeper-batsman for his abilities, they also asked him to play sensibile cricket and not gift his wicket away by playing careless shots.

"We'll let him be but at times when you see a shot, like the first ball dismissal in Trinidad, if he repeats that, then he will be told. There will be a rap on the knuckles, talent or no talent," the head coach said.

"As simple as that. Because you are letting the team down, forget letting yourselves down. In a situation where you have the captain at the other end, a target to chase, the need of the hour is sensible cricket," Shastri was quoted as saying in an interview with Star Sports.

"No one will even think of changing his style. Like Virat said, reading the situation, match-awareness and shot-selection becomes crucial. If he can fathom that, he could be unstoppable.

"It could take one game, it could take four games. He has played so much IPL cricket, he will learn. It's time now for him to step up and show how devastating he can be," Shastri said with captain Virat Kohli by his side.

Kohli, on his part, said he wants Pant to play according to situations.

"The only expectation from Rishabh is that he read situations well. We don’t expect him to play the way you might be thinking. It is about analysing a situation and dealing with it in your own way." Kohli said.

"Someone like Rishabh will hit five boundaries in a difficult situation compared to me, who likes to take singles or twos and get out of it. Everyone has their own game but reading the situation and decision-making is an expectation from everyone in the team, not just Rishabh," Kohli added.

Pant's abilities however remain a reason why he is persisted with but former India, Delhi opener and two-time IPL-winning captain Gautam Gambhir believes that Pant will soon be challenged by Sanju Samson for the role of wicketkeeper-batsman.

"Rishabh Pant is always exciting but he has to watch his back as my favourite Sanju Samson is throwing some serious challenges at him," Gambhir wrote in his column for The Times of India.

Here we take a look at some other options, who can challenge Pant in ODIs and T20Is going forward.

SANJU SAMSON

Sanju Samson has been in and around the India A set up for a long time but has failed to graduate to the senior side after playing a lone T20I against Zimbabwe at Harare in 2015. 

Since then, Samson has performed consistently in the domestic circuit and remains an integral part of the Rajasthan Royals outfit in the IPL.

However, Samson's recent performances haven't been up to the mark. In his last 10 matches (IPL and List A), Samson has hit only one 50 plus score with that being 91 against South Africa A in the 5th unofficial ODI.

But, what works in his favour, especially in ODIs is that he is much more of a matured batsman and reliable when it comes to batting in the middle-order. Samson's ability to soak pressure and then counter-attack makes him a much better option in the 50-over format at least with the bat.

ISHAN KISHAN

Ishan Kishan was a part of the U-19 Indian team that played the final along with Pant in 2015/16. In fact, he was the captain of the side while Pant was his deputy.

The Jharkhand player much like Pant is a maverick of sorts but on his day, he could be equally destructive.

However, what works in Kishan's favour is much like Samson, he has the ability to play the waiting game and attack when necessary. But, Kishan as well, has been inconsistent and in his last 10 innings (List A and First Class), has recorded only one half-century, which came against India Blue in the Duleep Trophy.

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