Rishabh Pant's coach Tarak Sinha lashed out at his critics after his ward was hit with a barrage of 'Dhoni Dhoni' chants and boos following his missed stumping opportunities and cacthes in Mohali.
Pant, who replaced Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the fourth and fifth ODI as the wicketkeeper-batsman in the side, missed a straightforward chance to dismiss a set Peter Handscomb and five overs later, he missed another stumping opportunity to send the rampant Ashton Turner back to the pavilion off Yuzvendra Chahal's bowling.
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Following that, the crowd started booing him and chanted Dhoni's name whenever he would get the ball, thus, bringing up comparisons with the former India captain.
However, Sinha begs to differ with the public opinion and feels it is unfair on the 20-year-old to be compared with someone of Dhoni's calibre and stature at this point of his career.
"Such comparisons are cropping up because, like Dhoni, he (Pant) is also a wicketkeeper-batsman. But it's unfair on him because it puts undue pressure for him to perform in a particular way, and be like Dhoni. He performs the best when his mind is free," Sinha told Indian Express.
He also went on to add that Dhoni had little pressure on him when he made his debut while Pant has to deal with a lot of baggage and expectation, which kind of affects a young cricketer.
"There's a difference between the Pant of today and Dhoni 14-years-ago when he was making his way into the Indian team. Back then, he did not come with the kind of baggage like Pant has. There wasn't any legendary wicketkeeper whom he was replacing. The guys back then were either Dinesh Karthik or Parthiv Patel, players younger to him. So, he (Dhoni) was free from the pressure and expectations that Pant is facing today," he said.
"Which keeper in the world hasn't missed a catch or a stumping? Even Dhoni missed catches and stumpings at the start of his career. The good thing is that the selectors persisted with him and did not drop him after one season. He improved with time to become one of the greats of the game," Sinha he added.
Sinha also defended his ward in terms of batting. Pant been eye-catching but he is yet to fix a place in the World Cup squad as his knack of throwing his wicket away has come under severe criticism.
But, his coach feels that Pant's ability to hit the big shots at will and attack will help India in the later stages of the games.
"Most of the matches that he has played recently were in T20s, where he was asked to start playing his shots from the first ball."
"Having him in the middle order will give them the firepower in the death overs. At the moment, we do have stroke-makers in the middle order, but that explosive big hitter is missing — someone who can push the score from 300 to 350. Pant has that ability," Sinha explains.
Pant will next be seen in action in the fifth and final ODI against Australia in Delhi and then will join with the Delhi Daredevils squad for the 12th season of the Indian Premier League.