Rishabh Pant has been enduring a torrid time with the bat and behind the wickets in the last couple of months. In ODIs, he has not yet hit a fifty while in the last 10 Twenty20 Internationals, he has managed just one score of fifty. As a wicketkeeper, Pant botched up a stumping against Bangladesh and his one dropped catch in the game against West Indies in Thiruvananthapuram cost India heavily. With lack of contributions with the bat and also struggling behind the stumps, the pressure is heavily on Pant heading into the first ODI against West Indies in Chepauk.
With every passing game, the criticism of Pant has mounted with fans chanting MS Dhoni's name each time he messes up an opportunity. This has sometimes angered Virat Kohli who has asked the fans to behave and not put him under pressure. The amount of chances that he has gotten has led to constant criticism on social media. Ahead of the first match, India cricket team batting coach Vikram Rathour has spoken about the main factor which has resulted in Pant getting so many chances.
"The reason why we keep discussing him is that he has got an immense ability. Everybody believes he can be an X factor. All of us believe he is a good player who can come good. He is working hard on his game and fitness. Because he has done well in the past in this format. Once he starts getting runs, he can be a massive player for the Indian team, he can be a match-winner. He is working on certain things. He is looking good in the nets. He has been decent in the T20s. He was asked to do a certain job in the last T20 which he did. That's what the team looks for," Rathour said.
Mayank Agarwal, who has been drafted in to the ODI team in place of an injured Shikhar Dhawan, has a good record in the 50-overs format at the 'A' level and Rathour believes Agarwal can shine in the ODIs. "Mayank Agarwal, again he has done so well in domestic cricket for many years, got into the Test team, did really well, one day cricket again his record at A level, I think, he is averaging more than 50, he has got a good Vijay Hazare this year as well. Looking at the overall picture, we are all happy to see him in the squad in this format as well. Let's see if he gets an opportunity and wherever he gets an opportunity, we are hoping he does well," Rathour added.
Saying that India were the number one team while chasing, Rathour said batting first was one area that needed to be worked on, and they did it in the last game (the final T20 in Mumbai).
"We are the number one team in the world while chasing targets, so that is one box we needed to tick off. While batting first, you need a different kind of fearlessness, when you are chasing targets you know what to chase so we plan our game plans better. Batting first, that is one area we need to work on. The way we batted in the last game, it was a big tick in the box so looking forward to maintaining that and whenever an opportunity comes, we will be looking to bat first and post good scores," Rathour said.