When Rishabh pant was a part of Indian team to Australia, his place in the team was not guaranteed. When the victorious Indian team returned from Australia after 2-1 victory, he was a 'National Hero'. From serving drinks in drinks break to carrying the national flag in the victory lap at Gabba in Brisbane, from getting brickbats for poor performance to accolades for scoring match saving and match winning performances, Pant's life has turned one full circle.
Comparison with M.S. Dhoni
It is very difficult to emulate the huge standards set by Dhoni and every time Pant came to the batting crease and made a mistake, he was booed and jeered on the field and comparisons were bound to follow between him and Dhoni. Indian team persisted with him, after his initial failures, ever since the retirement of M.S. Dhoni. But after a series of Pant's failures the selectors looked for other wicket keeping alternatives. His place in the team was challenged by K.L.Rahul in limited overs cricket and Saha in test match cricket.
Everybody's fortunes fluctuated in the year 2020 because of coronavirus and so too for Pant in the year 2019-20. The crowds and media were after his failures in wicket keeping and batting departments and eventually he was left out of all three formats of the game. It seems Pant has learnt from his mistakes after facing a string of failures. Pant's swashbuckling batting style is similar to Virendra Sehwag and is a clean hitter of the ball. Whenever he comes to batting, he brings shivers down the spine of opposition teams and heart attacks to billions of Indian fans with his daredevil batting approach. With a huge variety of shots in his arsenal, it should be easier for him to rotate the strike initially, and never go after the bowling all the time,be sensible and come to the team's cause whenever the team is in dire straits.
With the amount of talent he possesses, he can shift his batting gears at any point of time and set the stadium ablaze. Pant can play pace and spin bowling with aplomb. When Pant is on fire, winning chances for Indian team are higher and higher. He will definitely walk into any cricket team with his batting prowess alone. When opposition teams are on song he brings a sense of humor into the players with his chat behind the stumps. The boy has become a man with match saving innings at Sydney to match winning knocks at Brisbane. His flamboyant batting skills in Australia won him the ICC's inaugural player of the month award for January.
Areas of improvement
But at times he throws away his wicket much to the dismay of his captain, coach and huge Indian fans. But If he is little choosy in shot selection, strike a right balance between 'caution' and 'aggression', he can aim for more bigger innings and can easily fill the shoes of Dhoni as a great finisher of cricket. As Sunil Gavaskar has rightly pointed out he should know the minute difference between being 'Carefree' and 'Careless'. Vikram Rathour, the batting coach, has pointed out that young cricketers like Pant should know the difference between 'fearlessness' and 'carelessness'. If Pant bats according to the team's situation, he will be an asset to the team and can change from player to performer and eventually can become an icon. If he further tones up 'wicket keeping' skills, another important aspect of his cricket career and maintains his fitness, he can become Gilchrist of Indian cricket team and can cement his place in the team for decades to come, with age is on his side. If the series of successes doesn't catch his mind, he will definitely become an asset to Indian cricket for years to come.
Pant has donated his match fee towards rescue operations for the glacier burst Uttarakhand. Pant has a habit of giving his cricket kit to junior cricketers after the conclusion of every series. What a great gesture from a young cricketer of 23 years age. Whenever Pant is at the batting crease, there will never be a dull moment and certainly paisa vasool for the spectators. Rishabh Pant is certainly an 'enigma' in the current Indian team.
V. Nagendra Kumar is an HVAC Engineer