Kolkata: Rishabh Pant seems to have earned the confidence of the Indian Team Management or Team India Selection committee. Despite being consistently inconsistent, he has a guaranteed place in the side and is a go-to man with an eye on the future.
But the question is: How long should we stay patient with him and give him a long rope? When was the last time he got a big one for the country? Can you recall? Most of you wouldn’t and we won’t chastise you for this lapse in memory. Seldom has he wielded magic with the willow of late and has also looked uncomfortable behind the stumps. Yet, he figures in the Indian Teams for the ODIs and T20Is against the West Indies at the expense of Sanju Samson who is ousted without getting a look in during the T20 series against Bangladesh.
Aren’t we being harsh on such a talent who has been in sublime form at the domestic level? The blind trust in Pant seems to be a protracted affair and more deserving ones are left to cool their heels outside. Is there any rational thought backing the decision to repose faith in the Delhi stumper who has been in dire straits across formats? There is none.
Well, let’s not doubt Pant’s talent and acumen. But if it is not reflected on his performance, efforts to get the best out of him come a cropper. The irony is that, our National Selectors have taken the adage, “Form is temporary and class is permanent,” too seriously. And out of a stern belief in the saying, they rally behind players who retain their places despite a series of dismal shows.
Senior leader Shashi Tharoor too expressed his disappointment on the dropping of Sanju Samson from West Indies squad.
Shikhar Dhawan is another example. Of late, he has hardly shown any spark and his strike rate has been a liability on the team. Having been around for so many years, he still cuts a sorry figure when it comes to anchoring the innings. As somebody with experience in his bag, he is not the one to rely on if the likes of Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma do not get going. The occasional fifties do not count if one lacks consistency in the longer run. Yet, we show utmost empathy for both Dhawan and Pant hoping they will come good sooner. Now that’s a gamble which could cost the team dear.
Look, we are dealing with two crucial positions that cannot be brushed aside. In the truncated formats, starts dictate the direction of the game and it is unfair to expect the middle order to stem the rot and cover the openers’ failures over and over again. Dhawan is pale shadow of his usual self and his partnership with Rohit isn’t doing the team any good either. Dhawan’s flirtatious form gives Kohli headache, but he seems unperturbed. Similarly, Pant behind the stumps has been patchy and his judgments of the DRS are putting the team at risk. And with the bat too, as we have discussed, he isn’t living up to his team’s demands.
With the T20 World Cup slated for next year, it’s high time, India got their composition right and they should close in on a set of players at least six months before the coveted tournament. Hence it is a must to try out new talents before finally deciding on a combination. In view of this, Samson should have been given an opportunity and the series against West Indies would have been the perfect platform.
We may have put the MS Dhoni era behind and moved on but sturdy support for non-performers would deprive skilled players of their due. Well, cricket is a game of great uncertainties and if Pant and Dhawan prove their detractors wrong, their selection will be validated. But they would consider themselves lucky that ifs and buts have dispelled all threats to their places in the team. That’s the sad part!