Source: The Hitavada      Date: 15 Oct 2018 12:01:47

WHILE Prithivi Shaw is getting rave reviews and is being compared with Virendra Sehwag for his swashbuckling batting style, another player, wicket-keeper-batsman Rishabh Pant too has begun to draw attention of not only the selectors but also cricket fans. By inducting him into the the One-Day squad the selectors and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) appear to be drawing a succession plan for the great Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Though Dhoni still remains the first choice for the World Cup as the wicket-keeper, it is clear that Pant could be a back-up for Dhoni. In the two Test matches he played Pant has showcased his alround abilities as a keeper and a reliable batsman. 

With Pant showing great promise both with the bat and gloves, he is being looked to as an ideal replacement for great man Dhoni. In the Hyderabad Test Pant narrowly missed a century. But his strike rate as the middle order batsman was as promising as the selectors were looking for all this time. Pant could give the much needed stability to the middle order which appears to be unsettled as of now. With Ajinkya Rahane woefully out of form, Pant could provide the much required solidity at the middle order. That is what he has promised through his recent authentic knocks.

The upcoming tour of Australia would be crucial for team-building as some of the new faces in the Indian team like Prithvi Shaw, Rishabh Pant, Kuldeep Yadav, K.L. Rahul would be thoroughly tested in alien conditions. Till then it cannot be said that the Indian team is well settled to launch its World Cup campaign. There would not be much scope for the Indian think-tank to do experimentation during the tough Australian tour. Though the series against England appeared to be evenly fought, India’s batting chinks were thoroughly exposed. That again proved that Indian team continues to be a poor traveller.

Hence it is an onerous task to overcome the shortcomings in the batting side that were thoroughly exposed during the English tour as Australian conditions would provide no respite. One excuse for the poor show during the tour of England was cited as the Indian team being under-prepared before the official tour began as not many practice games were included in the tour.

This is the failure of the managements on both sides. This aspect needs to be taken into consideration during the tour of Australia. The new entrants to big league cricket would certainly need practice matches to get themselves used to the conditions in Australia and prepare for the bigger challenges ahead. That facility should be made available to these youngsters.