Rishabh Pant, the ultra-aggressive 20-year-old batsman and wicket-keeper, has been picked in the Indian Test team, and his ‘A’ team coach Rahul Dravid feels it’s a positive development.
Pant has made a name for his blitzes with the bat, scoring heavily – and quickly – for India Under-19s, Delhi Daredevils, Delhi and other teams he has played for at various levels.
Always thought of as a cinch to make the Indian short-format teams, Pant has played four T20Is already with limited success, so his call-up to the Indian Test team for the tour of England in August-September came as a bit of a surprise.
Not so, according to Dravid, who has watched Pant closely over the years as the coach of the India A and India U19 teams. Most recently, as part of India A in England, Pant stood out among the Indian batsmen with scores of 3 and 67* in a four-day game against West Indies A and then scored 58 and 61 against England Lions. Not to forget, Pant has a first-class batting average of 54.50 from 23 games.
“Rishabh was quite excellent on the tour. He is obviously a very talented player. He showed in three or four innings that he was willing to bat differently. We all know the way he bats. Even in the 2016-17 Ranji Trophy season when he got over to 900 runs [972 in 12 innings], his strike rate was 100-plus and we have seen him bat similarly in the IPL as well,” said Dravid to bcci.tv in an interview.
“On this trip, we challenged him a lot to bat according to the situation. He got a critical 64 (not out, against England Lions) in the one-day final when he was the last recognised batsman, and also against West Indies A when he put on a 100-run partnership with Jayant Yadav.”
The Indian Test team is without Wriddhiman Saha, the first-choice wicket-keeper, and Dinesh Karthik has been picked as the primary gloveman, with Pant as his understudy.
“He showed that he could bat differently. He has the temperament and skills to bat differently,” said Dravid.
“He is always going to be an attacking player but reading of the situation when you are playing red ball cricket is required. We are glad he has been picked in the national team and I hope he takes this maturity into the national team and hopefully builds from thereon.”
The first England v India Test starts at Edgbaston on August 1.