Rishabh Pant beginning the batting in a T20 international, according to former India fielding coach R Sridhar, may prove to be a turning point for the Indian team. According to Sridhar, the wicketkeeper-batter might frighten the other team’s camp and divert attention from the other end of the field.
Sridhar made his remarks during India’s 49-run victory against England in the second of a three-match T20I series on Saturday in Birmingham, where Rishabh Pant made his T20I debut as an opener.
Pant entered the field to begin with skipper Rohit Sharma in lieu of Ishan Kishan. The left-hander helped India quickly reach 49 for no loss in the fifth over by hitting 26 off only 15 balls.
All The Bowlers Will Focus On Rishabh Pant: R Sridhar
In an interview with Sony Sports, R Sridhar praised Rohit Sharma for the decision and outlined the reasons he thinks Pant can be a successful opener, much as Sachin Tendulkar was when he was given the opportunity to do so in ODIs in 1994.
” Hopefully, it’s going to be a watershed moment like it happened in 1994 when someone put Mr. Tendulkar at the top,” Sridhar said of Pant’s promotion to the opening spot.
“I think to start with, a left-hander at the top is very, very important. He can make bowling ridiculously silly, and he will walk the talk like Rohit is doing.
“He will play the way he would want the team to play. He will put off the bowling unit. He will create fear and all the bowlers will focus on him. It will open up the other end,” Sridhar said.
Rishabh Pant Will Make It Tough For KL Rahul And Virat Kohli: Sanjay Manjrekar
Sanjay Manjrekar, a former Indian batter, too praised the decision, saying Pant and Rohit Sharma at the top will offer India a lot of alternatives and enable the fight for the middle-order positions to ease up a little.
Manjrekar asserted that if Pant succeeds at the top, KL Rahul could have to bat at No. 3 and Virat Kohli’s task will be “much more tough.” Notably, Virat Kohli, batting at No. 3, was dismissed for 1 on his maiden T20I comeback since February while KL Rahul has been out with a groin ailment.
“With Rishabh Pant, the 4-5 spots in the middle, he is out of that race now. He goes at the top and some people can breathe a little easy. Suryakumar Yadav played today because Pant opened. He would have found it difficult to get in.
“The other thing is this guy has succeeded at the Test level, he handles the new ball well. On a big stage, a quality attack, imagine a T20 World Cup semi-final, he will be able to survive that.
“I think the possibilities are endless. What India have done is taken out an audacious, brilliant talent who is slightly stifled at No. 4 or No. 5 and set him free at the top.
“It makes life a little difficult for KL Rahul, who might have to bat at No. 3 and it makes life even more difficult for Virat Kohli,” Manjrekar added.
Team India will look to complete a 3-0 sweep of England when they take on Jos Buttler’s men in the 3rd and final T20I in Nottingham on Sunday, July 10.