What do you do when you have enormous shoes to fill? For one, you steer clear of blunders. Not Rishabh Pant. Widely seen as a natural successor to MS Dhoni in the India cricket team, Pant in 2019 got a great opportunity to prove his mettle and seal his place in the squad. But, given his many misses, he has yet to give the team management enough confidence.
As Dhoni made himself unavailable for selection after the ICC Cricket World Cup earlier in the year, all eyes were on the Delhi southpaw who is known for his power-hitting abilities and a decent fare behind the stumps. However, as a batsman he squandered many a good start, and as a wicket-keeper he did little to stand out.
Doubtless, the youngster would have been under immense pressure of expectations. There are no two thoughts about his abilities as a young player and the backing of seniors and former players. Even the recently-appointed president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) Sourav Ganguly heaped praises on Pant's talent and urged his critics to go easy on the lad.
Even so, the year 2019 had too many downs for the batsman, and his fans are still waiting for his bat to finally do the talking. As we move into a new year, we hope Pant will shed his jinx and present himself as a more evolved player. Meanwhile, let’s take a look at some of the blunders of Rishabh Pant that raised the eyebrows in 2019:
Cavalier approach in IPL 2019
Pant’s stats in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2019 might suggest his performance was stellar: He scored 488 runs in 16 matches, with three half-centuries. But, truly, the tournament was full of opportunities that Pant threw away. He had several good starts but could not build up on those to score big. With his team, Delhi Capitals, playing better than it had in earlier editions of IPL, Pant did make a statement by scoring some runs but failed to silence his critics, who continue to question his ability to anchor the innings.
Ind vs Aus, 4th ODI: Missed stumping
During Australia's tour of India in March, Pant was behind the stumps when Chahal bowled down the leg side and he failed to collect the ball. Batsman Ashton Turner, who was well outside the crease, received an unnecessary lifeline. The blunder also cost India the match, as Turner went on to score an unbeaten 84 to take Australia to victory.
Inconsistent show cost him a WC spot
Pant’s inconsistency as a batsman in the run-up to the ICC World Cup 2019 cost him a place in the Indian squad. But he was called up to England after Shikhar Dhawan suffered an injury. Pant could have used this opportunity to cement his place and silence his critics, but he found no form and kept throwing away his wicket. In the four innings that he got, Pant scored only 116 runs, with his highest being 48; he could not contribute to the team when it mattered the most.
Wrong calls, missed chances
Pant had a tough time in the recently concluded T20I series between India and Bangladesh. In the first match, Yuzvendra Chahal had almost sent Mushfiqur Rahim back to the pavilion, but he got an extra life, and he had Pant to thank for it. In the 10th over, Rahim was trapped in front of the stumps and there was an appeal for LBW. Rohit Sharma, who was the skipper in that match, sought Pant's view, and the wicketkeeper asked the skipper not to go for a review. This cost the Indian team dear.
Just two balls later, Pant asked Rohit to seek a review when Soumya Sarkar missed a shot. The ball was seen clearly away from the bat and the Indian skipper was not too happy about it.
Ball collection in front of the stumps
In the second T20I between India and Bangladesh, Chahal was denied a wicket because of a stumping blunder by Pant in the sixth over. Chahal managed to turn the ball and Liton Das was caught in the web, but Pant collected the ball just before the stumps to take the bails off. The decision went to the third umpire and the replays showed Pant's gloves were not behind the stumps when he collected the ball and whipped the bails off. According to rules, the wicketkeeper should be fully behind the wicket at the time of collecting the ball.