Mumbai: Under fire wicket-keeper batsman has finally responded to the criticism he has received due to his inability to perform in the recently concluded ICC World Cup and the India tour of West Indies. He said that he has earned his spot in the national squad rather than someone else gifting it to him on a platter.
In an interview with Bombay Times, Pant talked about filling in the shoes of MS Dhoni, the experience of playing in the World Cup and the babysitter banter with Tim Paine.
Regarding the criticism, he said, “It’s good for a player to get an early break. Besides, I am not getting anything for free. I have worked hard and earned my place in the Indian cricket team. Nobody has gifted that to me. Koi nahi bolta ke 'Bhai team mein aaja’. Aisa nahi hota hai. If you don’t perform well, you won’t be selected. It’s as simple as that. Everyone has to justify their spot in the team.”
Pant has also been considered as MS Dhoni’s replacement in all three formats for quite some time now. Responding to this comparison, he said, “I do think about the comparison with Dhoni sometimes, but it’s too difficult. If I am learning from him, I can’t possibly think that I can be in his league overnight. I am just trying to learn from him. I consider him my mentor. He has taught me so many things be it how to work on my batting or mindset before I go to bat, and most importantly, keeping calm in pressure situations.”
He added, "At 21 if I start thinking that I have to fill Dhoni’s shoes, it will get very difficult for me. I just try to keep it simple. I want to play the game to the best of my ability and learn from everyone around me, especially my seniors."
Rishabh Pant also revealed that he hadn’t expected to be selected in the World Cup squad as a ‘wild-card’ entry after initially missing out on the 15-member squad. He said, “I didn’t expect to make it to the WC as a wild-card entry. I had hoped that I would make it to the final 15. I had worked for it. It was a dream come true to play the WC, but no, I never thought the opportunity would come like this. I was happy. I remember I was in my hometown Roorkee when I got a call from the BCCI saying, Just be ready. You may have to come to the UK, so be in Delhi’. I told them that I am in Delhi already (smiles!). I had an intuition that I will get that call.”
Earlier this year, Pant also made headlines due to his babysitting banter with Australian captain Tim Paine. Pant was later also seen with Paine’s family. On this, he said, “I was laughing at it. I have no clue how he thought of calling me that. It was fun. When I met his family, his mother wanted a photo with me. His wife was standing around with their two kids. She asked me if she could also take a picture with me.
"I actually held one of the kids for the photograph, saying I can be their babysitter. She posted it on Instagram and it went viral. It was friendly banter. Also, whatever happens on the field stays on the field. I don’t take it home or hold grudges.
"I love the banter actually. I won’t ever start anything (sledging) first, but if someone pushes my limit, I have to give it back. I can’t just listen to anyone and keep quiet,"
Rishabh Pant sure does have a very big role to play in the future for team India and any criticism he faces should be converted into a positive thought....