IND vs SA: Rishabh Pant is a very big and integral part of our plan in next few months, says Rahul Dravid
IND vs SA: India’s head coach, Rahul Dravid, made it clear on Sunday that Rishabh Pant, who has been under fire, is a “major” and “integral” part of the team heading into the T20 World Cup in Australia.
Pant, who captained the team in a five-match series against South Africa that finished in a 2-2 draw after the final game was postponed due to rain, scored only 58 runs in five innings, prompting some to doubt his place in the shorter format.
However, Dravid was very clear that Pant is going nowhere.
“Personally, he would have liked to score a few more runs but it is not concerning him. Certainly, he is a very big part of our plans going ahead in next few months,” Dravid said during the post-match press conference.
He stated unequivocally that he will not pass judgement on someone based on a single series, whether it be batting form or captaincy.
“I just don’t want to be critical. In the middle overs, you need people to play slightly attacking brand of cricket, to take the game on a little more. Sometimes it’s very hard to judge it based on two or three games,” the head coach said.
In fact, Dravid was impressed by Pant’s strike rate of 158 or more during the IPL, where he scored 340 runs for the Delhi Capitals.
“I think he had a pretty good IPL in terms of strike-rate even. Though it might not have looked good on averages. In IPL, he looked to move up a little bit (in terms of averages). And probably three years ago he was on those numbers. We are hoping that we can get those numbers from him at the international level.”
Pants is a high-risk game with a hefty price tag. But the coach is willing to pay it given the broader vision.
“In the process (of playing an attacking game), he might go wrong in a few games. But he remains an integral part of our batting line-up with the power he has. And the fact that he is a left-hander is important to us in the middle overs. He played some good knocks,” he said.
Dravid thought Pant performed a good job as captain. Despite the fact that he brought the team back from a 2-0 deficit in the series.
“To bring a team back from 0-2 down and to level it at 2-2. And give us a chance to win was good. Captaincy is not about wins and losses only. He (Pant) is a young captain, growing as leader. It is too early to judge him. And you don’t want to do that after one series,” Dravid was clear in his thought-process.
“It was nice to see he has got opportunities to lead, keep and bat. He had a lot of load on him but gaining from that experience and credit to him. For ensuring that we went from 0-2 down to 2-2,” the coach was all praise for the stand-in skipper.