Ex-India skipper MS Dhoni has always been a God-like figure to young Rishabh Pant, said Kolkata Knight Riders opener Nitish Rana while downplaying comparisons between the two wicketkeeper-batsmen. Rana said that Pant himself feels that he's not 'worthy' of being compared to the World Cup-winning skipper.
Since breaking into the India set-up, Pant has had to answer his fair share of critics en route to the top. Stepping into Dhoni's giant shoes wasn't an easy task for anyone and comparisons with the Indian stalwart made life difficult for Pant.
The 23-year-old dasher was scrutinized for poor wicketkeeping skills and rash shot selection. Pant, however, roared back to life with performances against Australia and England.
A string of impressive performances in Australia and home series against England have made Pant India's first-choice wicketkeeper for the upcoming WTC final and the five-Test series against the Three Lions.
In an exclusive interaction with India TV, Rana, who happens to be a good friend of Pant, even recalled how the Delhi Capitals captain shared memes about his turnaround in international cricket.
"Rishabh feels he's not worthy of comparison with Mahi bhai. Pant admires Dhoni a lot, to the extent that he's a God-like figure to him. He had requested, 'Stop comparing me with Mahi bhai, take my bat and everything else. I don't want to play, but don't compare me with Dhoni," said Rana.
"He even shared memes and mentioned how people change. First, they used to say this and now see what they are saying. He's very positive in his life and has immense self-belief and that's his biggest strength."
Underlining the importance of self-belief, Rana recalled the incident when Pant had told him that 'I am just one big innings away' from answering his critics.
"I remember there was a time when people started criticizing him but he used to tell me: 'I am just one big innings away, the day I play that, everyone will be silent and I believe I am going to play that innings very soon.' The next match, he made a hundred something, it was during the 2018-19 Australia tour," said Rana