Rishabh Pant and the Men in Blue were 28-2 in the last Test against South Africa in Bengaluru, which finished in a draw. After that game at Chinnaswamy Stadium, the series is currently tied at 2-2. Despite the fact that there was no winner and the 24-year-old cricketer walked off after a poor performance, he stated that it was his chance to show why he belonged in the team.
After the Test, India men’s national cricket team coach Rahul Dravid said in a post-match press conference that he is not in any doubt about his place. He said that his decision to play Pant is part of the team's big plans for the next few months. Dravid said that Pant would still start as the opening batter for India.
According to sources, after the test against South Africa, there were some discussions questioning India's T20 game. However, Dravid said that it was the process and he tolerated Pant’s fault. He also stated that because his left-hand play is important, he will still play as a part of the team's batting line-up.
“In the process [of playing an attacking game],” Dravid said.
“He might go wrong in a few games but he remains an integral part of our batting line-up with the power he has and the fact that he is a left-hander is important to us in the middle overs, he played some good knocks,” he explained.
The same thing happened a few months back at the previous T20 World Cup. Men in Blue former captain Virat Kohli was asked an unusual question after the loss to Pakistan. At that time, journalists questioned why Dravid placed India captain Rohit Sharma on the top order rather than Ishan Kishan who statistically performed better.
Expert opinion on playing Pant
According to reports, some people view that playing Pant is a bad idea for a variety of reasons. Pant is statistically one of the poorest hitters among the nine players. He batted more than 40 times in T20Is, recording the team's second-worst average and a strike rate of 23.15.
His strike rate of 123.91 with a six per 19 balls creates a picture of bad performance in T20Is with little effect on the squad, according to analysts.
However, pundits Wasim Jaffer and Sunil Gavaskar have suggested Pant should try to open the innings with Sharma. They said that picking Pant as an opener would be a perfect partner for Sharma than Deepak Hooda or Kohli. They also stated that if Dravid chooses Pant to open the innings, it will be beneficial in the long run.
Pant has never opened an innings in a T20I, although he did it this year for the Men in Blue during the ODI series against the West Indies in February. At that very first opener in a match, Pant scored 18 runs. In response, Jaffer asserted that with Pant opening, the 24-year-old cricketer would give his all in the upcoming T20Is contest.