Leading into the four-match Test series, Rishabh Pant was arguably in the midst of the lowest point in his international career. The talented Indian wicketkeeper-batsman had received a lot of flak for his inconsistent performances with the bat in white-ball cricket and his below-par keeping.
So much so that the Delhi cricketer was dropped from both the white-ball squads for the series in Australia and also from the opening Test of the series as India went with the keeping skills of Wriddhiman Saha. He was eventually included in the side from the 2nd Test and even though he came under the scanner for his keeping, the swashbuckler proved his worth with the bat as he played two game-changing knocks of 97 and 89* in the fourth innings of the Sydney and Brisbane Test.
More, in an interview with India Today, urged India to persist with Rishabh Pant as he feels that the 23-year-old has the ability to play game-changing knocks, similar to what Kapil Dev and MS Dhoni used to do for India and Adam Gilchrist for Australia in their heydays.
“Rishabh gave a very good balance to the side after he came in. He is a player who has scored runs at No. 6 or No. 7. In Australia earlier also. He likes playing on such a type of wicket. I will always put money on Rishabh Pant,” Kiran More told India Today.
“I have been watching him for so many years now. I always felt he could win matches for you on his day. When you have such a type of player in the team, it doesn’t matter if he doesn’t score occasionally. On his day, he can turn the game around like what Kapil Dev used to do for us at No. 7. That’s what Adam Gilchrist did for Australia,” he said
“A lot of people always asked me why Rishabh Pant? He might not be keeping that well but he is young. You’re comparing him with Wriddhiman Saha? Saha is the No. 1 keeper in the world. But when you look at his batting, he puts a lot of pressure on the opposition. Plus he is a left-hander in that Indian line-up,” he added.
“When you have batsmen coming in at No. 7 and when you have someone like Pujara who plays around 60 overs, if this guy walks in, even from 200 for 5, there is always hope he can score 400 runs for you. Pant came and it gave the right balance. In fact, I would have gone with Pant in the first Test.” he said.
‘You can’t drop him’- Kiran More on Rishabh Pant
The Indian team has gone with a horses-for-courses approaching when it comes to selecting wicketkeepers for home and away Tests.
While Wriddhiman Saha has been preferred ahead of Pant in home Tests due to his superior keeping skills against spinners, Rishabh Pant has donned the gloves overseas.
Pant’s keeping against spinners has come under the scanner but Kiran More feels that India needs to persist with the southpaw even in-home Tests to allow him to develop and improve as a keeper on turning tracks.
More said that Pant cannot be dropped from the side post his exploits in Australia and India can’t play both Saha and Pant in home Tests due to the balance of the team.
“You can’t drop him. If Rishabh Pant can’t play on turning tracks if he doesn’t get experience on turning tracks, how will you develop him? You learn from his mistakes. He is a player who can learn well. Two wicket keepers can’t play. You won’t get balance if you play Saha and Pant together. I will play Pant in India also,” More said.
“I give a lot of credit to Rishabh Pant for what he must have gone through. This kid is mentally very strong. Let him enjoy his cricket, don’t put pressure on him. He will give India 10-12 years of outstanding cricket. And in all formats. I was always surprised he was dropped from the limited-overs teams. If a man can score a hundred in Test cricket, he can always play one-day cricket.” he added.