Rishabh Pant’s Flop Show Raises Concerns, But Is It Too Early to Criticise Indian Wicketkeeper-Batsman?



Author 2019-09-24 15:51:06


Rishabh Pant had a reasonable outing in the 2019 World Cup after being summoned mid-tournament, scoring 32, 48, 4, and 32. He then did not have a great tour of West Indies (though he was not terrible either). He followed that with scores of 19 and 4 in the T20Is against South Africa at home. His last 10 international innings have produced just 170 runs at 18.88 with a solitary fifty. As is often the case, his poor run has led to fans asking for his head. Rishabh Pant Trolled With Funny Memes For His Poor Show

One must remember that Pant is up against a massive challenge – that of stepping into the massive shoes of MS Dhoni, the man he has replaced in the first XI. Dhoni is not his only competition, either. Domestic stars like Sanju Samson and Ishan Kishan are ready to pounce on every opportunity; KL Rahul can step in as wicketkeeper in the shortest format; and there is little doubt that Wriddhiman Saha, left out of the Test XI, is the better man behind the stumps.

Rishabh Pant in T20 Internationals

The criticism against Pant is somewhat justified when it comes to T20 Internationals. A tally of 325 runs from 20 innings are disappointing, but what is even more surprising is his inability to score quickly, more so because Pant has been one of the most dangerous batsmen in the Indian Premier League.

In fact, none of the top run-scorers for India in T20 Internationals has scored at a strike rate anywhere remotely close to Pant’s 163 in IPL.

Indian batsmen with 500 T20I runs
Virat Kohli2,4501355,412132
Rohit Sharma2,4431374,898131
MS Dhoni1,6171264,432138
Suresh Raina1,6051355,368137
Shikhar Dhawan1,4131304,579125
Yuvraj Singh1,1771362,750130
Gautam Gambhir9321194,217124
KL Rahul8991481,977138
Manish Pandey5651222,843121
Rishabh Pant3251211,736163

It is easy to judge Pant based on his T20I records, but these are still early days. The quality of bowling he faces in IPL is quite comparable to what he faces at international level, so perhaps he deserves a longer rope.

Rishabh Pant in One-Day Internationals 

Here, too, Pant has not done little of note, scoring 229 runs from 10 innings at 22.90 – though his strike rate of 97 makes excellent reading.

However, it is to be noted here that Indians rarely start off well in ODI cricket. In fact, if one considers only Indians with over 8,000 ODI runs, only Mohammad Azharuddin (average 45) had a reasonable start. Kohli averaged 37, but his strike rate read 69 as he had to adapt to his role as an opener.

Indian batsmen with 8,000 ODI runs, (after 10 innings)
BatsmenRunsAveSRCareer runs
Mohammad Azharuddin36045.00699,378
Virat Kohli29637.006911,520
MS Dhoni28231.339610,773
Sourav Ganguly27230.226111,363
Rahul Dravid23829.757010,889
Sachin Tendulkar23523.5010118,426
Rishabh Pant22922.9097229
Yuvraj Singh22622.60928,701
Rohit Sharma22528.12798,686
Virender Sehwag14215.77758,273

At this stage, Pant had scored more runs than Yuvraj, Rohit, and Sehwag, all of whom would emerge as all-time ODI greats for India. Barring Azhar, no other Indian had more than 300 runs. And barring Tendulkar and Dhoni, no one else had a strike rate of even 80, let alone 90. 

Rishabh Pant in Test Cricket

What about Test cricket? Pant has been excellent with bat here. He averages 44.35 in Test cricket, a number bettered by only Kohli (53.14) and Cheteshwar Pujara (49.87) among contemporary Indians.

Current Indian batsmen

(500 runs, 35 average)

Virat Kohli6,74953.1425
Cheteshwar Pujara5,48649.8718
Rishabh Pant75444.352
Ajinkya Rahane3,75942.2310
Shikhar Dhawan2,31540.617
Rohit Sharma1,58539.623
M Vijay3,98238.2812

Since the start of 2019, only Kohli averages more than Pant among Indians.

Indian batsmen since 2018 (500 runs)
Virat Kohli1,48151.065
Rishabh Pant75444.352
Cheteshwar Pujara1,09040.374
Ajinkya Rahane93337.321
KL Rahul57822.231

Pant also has the highest batting average among Indian wicketkeepers. In fact, only Dhoni has an average even remotely close.

Indian wicketkeeper-batsmen (500 runs)
Rishabh Pant75444.352
MS Dhoni4,87638.096
Budhi Kunderan83133.242
Wriddhiman Saha1,12831.333
Parthiv Patel93431.130

Pant scored 114 in the fourth innings at The Oval; followed that with identical scores of 92 against West Indies at home; and scored 25 or more in all seven outings at Australia, rounding things off with 159 not out at Sydney. Pant scored 350 runs in that Australia tour, more than Virat Kohli’s tally of 281. He finished behind only Cheteshwar Pujara (521).


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