Pant's shot selection has let the team down sometimes - Shastri
With the T20 World Cup just over a year away, Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri, the India captain and coach respectively, have laid out their expectations from Rishabh Pant.
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The wicketkeeper-batsman's shot selection has been under the scanner. While reiterating his faith in Pant's talent and destructive ability, Shastri did say that some of the youngster's decisions with the bat had let the team down.
"When you see a shot like the one in Trinidad, off the first ball, [it's disappointing]," Shastri said in an interview to Star Sports, referring to Pant skipping down the track to Fabian Allen in India's third ODI against West Indies in Port of Spain, only to mistime his loft to mid-off.
"He tries to repeat it a couple of times and gets out, he will be told," Shastri said. "There will be a rap on the knuckles there - talent or no talent - because you are letting the team down, forget letting yourself down. You are letting the team down in a situation where you have the captain at the other end [Kohli was at the crease when Pant got out with India needing 164 off 22.3 overs]. You have a target to chase where the need of the hour is some sensible cricket."
That innings was Pant's second first-ball duck on the tour of the West Indies. In the first T20I in Lauderhill, too, he had top-edged a slog sweep off Sunil Narine.
"No one will change his style but match awareness becomes crucial, shot selection becomes crucial in particular situations," Shastri explained. "If he can fathom that out, he could be unstoppable. You mentioned how many games [it would take], it could be one game, it could be four games. I don't see more than that. He will learn. He has played enough IPL cricket. So it's time now for him to step on to the stage and just show the world how devastating he is."Even when I came into the team, it's not like you got 15 opportunities. You would get five, and you have to make the most of it. And that's the level that we are playing at
Kohli said the expectation was not for Pant to change his approach and natural game but to read situations better.
"Expectations are only of reading situations," Kohli said. "You don't expect a guy to play according to what you might be thinking. It's about analysing the situation and finding your own way of dealing with the situation. Someone like Rishabh might hit five boundaries in a difficult situation compared to me who likes to take ones and twos and get out of it. So everyone has their own game. But reading the situation and decision-making is the expectation from all the players, including myself."
India's schedule over the next few months is focused on preparing the team for the T20 World Cup, and while there is likely to be an effort at widening the pool and giving opportunities to potential candidates, Kohli said that those aiming to make a mark couldn't expect more than about five games to do so.
"Youngsters are being pushed into the side from time to time because you need to figure out who are the people who have the mentality, the mindset and the character to take the [team's] vision forward," Kohli said. "We are very clear on the fact that … even when I came into the team, it's not like you got 15 opportunities. You would get five, and you have to make the most of it. And that's the level that we are playing at.
"I think the individuals coming in need to have that mindset. The team definitely has that mindset. The guys who grab the opportunities quickly, they grab the opportunities, it's as simple as that. I think it's a delicate balance to strike. But it's necessary, because you have 30 matches to go, and you need to figure out how much time can be given to each individual for them to ease into the team."
Shastri felt that a pool of approximately 18 players to choose from should be the target immediately before the T20 World Cup. "I would say a pool of 18 players [would be ideal]," Shastri said. "We already have 15, so if you get another three from the outside in that span, you have got your pool. But the important thing is to be prepared to invest, not be scared that you might lose an odd game or two."