Indian wicketkeeper batter Rishabh Pant made his Test debut for India during the 2018 England tour. The wicketkeeper struggled to keep wickets against the likes of R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja during domestic Tests and often failed to collect regular grabs and catches in overseas matches.
Pant was benched for a few series, and Wriddhiman Saha was picked in the playing XI due to his wicketkeeping skills. The southpaw emerged as an integral part of the Indian national team after improving his wicketkeeping. He played some crucial knocks for India in overseas Test matches.
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I Must Confess, It Drove Me Nuts – R Sridhar
In the book ‘Coaching Beyond – My Days with the Indian Cricket Team’, R Sridhar recalled how difficult it was to convince Pant to make changes to his playing style.
“There were some inputs he was little reluctant to take. Because he trusted the game that had brought him to this level. Sometimes, I must confess, it drove me nuts, his stubbornness. But getting angry or frustrated wasn’t going to help anyone. I had to find a way to get Rishabh to try and do different things, if only for him to figure out if those changes might actually be beneficial to his keeping,” Sridhar said.
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I Decided It Was Time For A Little Tough Love – R Sridhar
Wriddhiman Saha was preferred over Pant in the home Test series against Bangladesh and South Africa due to his wicketkeeping skills. Pant made a comeback to the playing XI for the two-match Test series against New Zealand in 2020. Sridhar said that he decided to train Pant in an unusual manner at that time.
“We spent a lot of time together at practice, often just him and me and I decided it was time for a little tough love. I stopped giving suggestions and inputs and would ignore his quizzical looks when the ball burst through his hands or he fumbled with his collection. Rishabh has the smarts so it didn’t take him long to work out something wasn’t quite right,” he added.
“After a while he walked up to me and said ‘Sir, you aren’t saying anything. Please tell me what to do. Smiling inwardly, I said ‘Maybe you should lead with your head and not with your hands. Satisfied at having got me to shed my silence, he did precisely that. As the head led the way, so did the body and he was more assured in collecting the ball,” he concluded.
Pant met with an accident and suffered multiple injuries after his Mercedes coupe hit a road divider and caught fire on the Delhi-Dehradun highway on December 30. The left-handed batter is expected to miss most of the 2023 cricket season.
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