The coveted Indian Premier League has had a history of showcasing young Indian talents on the big stage and it was Rishabh Pant of the Delhi Daredevils who has emerged as a standout in that regards in the last couple of seasons. The left-hander proved to be the best batsman of the side and left the cricketing fraternity in awe of him.
The ease with which he handled the fiery pace bowlers from across the globe was jaw dropping. He could send the ball out of the park at will and with the left-hander’s elegance, it was even more pleasant to watch. Every time he walked off the field after the heroics, the fans were always left wanting for more. And at a tender age of 19, Pant has already earned a huge fan following not just from India but also other cricketing nations.
After he shone in the IPL, there were speculations that he might be slotted in for India’s Champions Trophy squad but that wasn’t to be. But the youngster didn’t have to wait too long as he was selected for the tour to the Windies that followed soon after the ICC event.
The selectors opted to rest Rohit Sharma for the tour that opened the doors for the Delhi-lad. Although he has played for India in a T20I before, he got to face just 3 deliveries in that game of which he scored 5 runs. This tour to the Carribean can be a vital one for his career. The performances there can make or break his future with Indian cricket.
And here are the five reasons why this tour could be a decisive one for Rishabh Pant’s career.
#1 Potential replacement for Dhoni
MS Dhoni has been a great servant for Indian cricket for over a decade and there aren’t too many who have contributed to the side more than him. But as all good things must come to an end some day so shall Dhoni’s presence in the Indian side.
It will be extremely difficult for anyone to fill in his shoes but if there is anyone who has raised hopes, that’s Rishabh Pant. Although he is a completely different player as compared to Dhoni, he has shown signs of the temperament for the big stage.
If Pant gets to play on the side, the team management might ask him to don the gloves to lighten the burden off Dhoni for a while and see how he handles the pressure of international cricket.
#2 Guidance of the experienced lads
Pant will have the golden opportunity to share the dressing room with the likes of MS Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh and Virat Kohli. There is nothing better for a teenager to receive guidance from such stalwarts of the game so early in the career.
Amongst all, he would cherish spending time with Dhoni the most. The 35-year-old may not be at the peak of his prowess with the bat anymore but he is still the best going around when it comes to skills behind the wickets.
Pant has shown his talent with the bat and a few tips from the former Indian captain will do wonders for his all-round game.
#3 Weak opponents
The Windies are not the side they once used to be. The level of cricket from the Maroon brigade has hit a new low after they failed to qualify for the Champions Trophy and very recently, they lost to Afghanistan in an ODI in their own backyard.
The side lacks confidence and experience which might work in Pant’s favour. If he gets to play, he will fancy his chances against the No.9 ranked side in the world. Although he would love to perform against a stronger team yet he won’t mind catching the limelight by doing well against the Windies.
#4 Rahane can spoil the party
Virat Kohli, in the press conference before the first ODI, has hinted that Ajinkya Rahane might open the innings in all the five ODIs. The right-hander was warming the benches in England during the Champions Trophy where he was picked as a backup opener.
It would be unfair on Rahane’s part if a new entry in the side is picked to play ahead of him. Hence, at the moment. it’s possible that Pant might not get to play at all in the whole series if Rahane manages to pull of decent performances.
Moreover, Rohit Sharma will return for the next tour and even KL Rahul will make a comeback. Shikhar Dhawan recently won the Golden Ball award in the Champions Trophy and has cemented his place for a while. If Pant doesn’t get an opportunity in the Windies, he might have to wait for a little for his chances in the future.
#5 Build up to the 2019 ODI World Cup
Now that the next ODI World Cup is less than two years away, the Indian think tank would start planning for the coveted tournament. It remains to be seen whether Pant is a part of the reckoning for the next tournament.
His inclusion for the Windies tour indicates that he is certainly in the consideration. BCCI would be looking to invest in some youngsters for the next couple of years to get them ready. Pant could well be a part of that list.
At the end, if the Delhi batsman indeed gets the opportunity to take the field in Indian colours, he needs to make the most of his chances. As the experienced lot will return soon, he has to excel now to register himself in the league of those players.