Rishabh Pant put in some solid displays in the number four slot during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 but India were knocked out in the semi-final. (Image credit: Getty Images)
Rishabh Pant has made great strides in the Indian cricket team in the last couple of years. After making his debut in the series against England, Pant blasted 114 in the Oval Test and then played a massive role behind the stumps in the series against Australia. He took 20 catches, including 11 in a single Test and then blasted 159 in the Sydney Test as India won the series 2-1. Since then, Pant has featured in Twenty20 Internationals and ODIs and has played some attacking knocks. In addition to his exploits for the Delhi Capitals in the IPL, Pant had a roller-coaster couple of months. The left-hander was omitted in the initial World Cup squad but made a comeback as Shikhar Dhawan was injured. Pant put up a solid display but India crashed out in the semi-final when they lost by 18 runs to New Zealand.
Speaking to Hindustan Times ahead of India's tour to West Indies, Pant said having prior Test match experience was vital in his development. "Yes, maybe it did help that I played Test cricket first. I got a good experience of playing Test cricket. People used to say that Test cricket is the most difficult. So I got to learn a lot, how to build the innings, playing down the order and how to bat with the tail. There is learning every day in Test cricket. Especially when you have to walk out to bat after having fielded the entire day. That is a different experience. In ODIs and T20Is especially, things happen very fast. I just focus on what I have to do and what I have to learn every day," Pant said.
Following India's World Cup exit, there was plenty of talk about the future of MS Dhoni. There were speculations that Dhoni would call it a day after the end of the World Cup but the former India skipper has given no hints that he will walk away from international cricket anytime in the near future. With Pant now the first choice keeper for the West Indies series in the absence of MS Dhoni, the youngster has admitted that to fill MS Dhoni's shoes would be massive.
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"Right now, I am not thinking about what people say. I am just focusing on what I have to do. I just want to do well for my country. That’s the only thing I am focusing on. I take the challenge positively. Now I have to see what I can learn, and what I can do to improve. The way he reads the game, that is the first thing. Then, he is always very calm in pressure situations. There are many things to learn from him. And off the field, he is always very helpful too. I look to always keep learning from the seniors," Pant said.
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India's middle-order woes were exposed in the semi-final against New Zealand and it once again opened up the debate on the No.4 position. Pant said he was happy batting at No.4 as it suited his style. "I loved batting at No. 4. It was nothing new for me as I have played at No. 4 before, like in the IPL. I had been practising for the same role. There is no specific way or style I play in. I always play according to the situation. I don’t know what people say, because I don’t read newspapers much. The only thing I am focusing on is that I have to play according to the situation, see what the team needs from me and how I can make the team win," Pant said.