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Rishabh Pant

Shastri, Kohli want better match awareness from Pant

India news

Ravi Shastri, the India head coach, had stern words for Rishabh Pant, urging the big-hitting wicket-keeper batsman to be smarter with his shot selection.

Pant, 21, is seen as one of India's brightest hopes. While he already has two hundreds in 11 Tests, he is considered an especially explosive force in limited-overs cricket, as reflected in a strike-rate of 161.03 in Twenty20 cricket.

However, in his short India career so far, he has been guilty of wasting starts, giving in to the temptation to attack all the time. Shastri, while insisting that the team did not want the youngster to change his style, demanded more responsibility from him.

Video cwc19 01 Feb 16
Pant smashes fastest 50 in U19CWC history – IND v NEP
Pant smashes fastest 50 in U19CWC history – IND v NEP

He gave the example of Pant's first-ball dismissal in the third one-day international against West Indies recently to explain his criticism. In that match, Pant, coming out at No.4, with the team 91/2 in a chase of a DLS-adjusted 255 from 35 overs, danced down the track to his first ball off left-arm spinner Fabian Allen, mistimed his shot, and was caught for a duck.  

"We'll let him be, but at times, when you see a shot like the first-ball dismissal in Trinidad, if he repeats that, then he will be told. There will be a rap on the knuckles, talent or no talent," Shastri said in a chat with Star Sports.

"As simple as that. Because you are letting the team down, forget letting yourselves down. In a situation where you have the captain at the other end, a target to chase, the need of the hour is sensible cricket."

Video cwc19 30 Jun 19
Virender Sehwag on Rishabh Pant - should he open?

"The only expectation from Rishabh is that he read situations well," captain Virat Kohli added. "We don't expect him to play the way you might be thinking. It is about analysing a situation and dealing with it in your own way."

Both captain and coach, though, reiterated their faith in Pant, whose highest score in 12 ODIs is 48, and has two fifties in T20Is. "No one will even think of changing his style," said Shastri. "Like Virat said, reading the situation, match-awareness and shot-selection becomes crucial. If he can fathom that, he could be unstoppable.

"It could take one game, it could take four games. He has played so much IPL cricket, he will learn. It's time now for him to step up and show how devastating he can be."