Rishabh Pant is integral part of T20 line-up: Rahul Dravid | Cricket News – Times of India
BENGALURU: Three of the top four Indian batsmen in the series against South Africa, which ended in a stalemate on Sunday after rain washed out the decider, returned relatively cold bats.
Skipper Rishabh Pant (58 runs), Shreyas Iyer (94) and Ruturaj Gaikwad (96) were far from the top of their game, but head coach Rahul Dravid refused to read too much into their performances in the drawn series.
“We are not going to make kneejerk reaction on people just like that,” Dravid insisted. “I don’t like judging people after one series or one game. Everyone who got the opportunity here, deserved it. They earned it. In this format of the game, you are going to have some good and bad games.”
Pant, in particular, has come in for some flak, given that the ICC T20 World Cup is around four months away. But if one thought the sword was hanging over the wicketkeeper-batsman’s head, Dravid dispelled the theory.
“I just don’t want to be (harsh). In the middle overs when you are asking people to play a slightly more attacking brand of cricket and looking to take the game on a little bit more, sometimes it is hard to judge based on two or three games,” Dravid said before drawing attention towards Pant’s form in the IPL this season. The Delhi Capitals skipper scored 340 runs in 14 matches, including three half-centuries, at an overall strike rate of 151.79.
“I think he had a pretty good IPL. It might not have looked good on average, but his strike rate was really good and he looked to move that up a little bit,” Dravid said.
The former India captain emphasized that Pant is an “integral part” of the line-up. “With the power he has and the fact that he is a left-hander is important to us,” Dravid said. “He has played some good knocks but personally he would have liked to score some more runs, but it’s not concerning him, and he is certainly a very big part of our plans going forward in next few months.”
With workload management and injuries, the Indian team has seen some shuffling in the T20 squads. But Dravid underlined the fact that the team management was in the process of firming up the squad for the T20 World Cup.
“As you come closer to the event, you want to firm up your final squad or have some contingencies. Obviously, you can take only 15 to the World Cup but you want to sort the top 18 to 20 players and the sort of squad you are planning to take. There could be odd changes due to injury and things that are beyond your control but we are going to start looking to firm up that squad as quickly as possible. Whether that will happen in the next series or series after that is hard to tell but we are certainly looking to do that as quickly as possible.”
‘BANG THE DOOR’
Longevity could well be Dinesh Karthik’s middle name and Dravid outlined the role assigned to the seasoned campaigner.
“He has been picked for a very specific skill and for what he has been doing exceptionally well for the last 2-3 years. It almost came together in the game at Rajkot, we needed that big performance in that last five overs to make a par score and he and Hardik batted beautifully.”
With Hardik Pandya too coming good in the format, Dravid’s middle-order options are plenty. “They are both (Karthik and Pandya) enforcers for us at the end, guys who can capitalise on the last five or six overs, as well as anyone in the world. It was really nice to see Karthik come off and do what he has been picked to do. It opens up a lot more options for us, going forward.”
For those staking a claim for a ticket to Australia, the message has already been delivered by Dravid. “I was telling guys that you have to start banging the door down and not just knock. Innings like that means he (Karthik) is knocking very hard.”
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