New Delhi: Chief selector MSK Prasad feels the struggling Rishabh Pant is putting himself under undue pressure by trying to prove himself as the rightful heir to the great MS Dhoni and he should rather back his "unbelievable talent" to bounce back.
Not so long ago, Pant was India's number one wicketkeeper-batsman in all three formats but has endured an erratic run of form for some time now.
With Wriddhiman Saha back in the team, he has now lost his place in the Test eleven and his place in the limited-overs format has also been questioned for lack of runs and his poor work with the gloves.
However, the team management and selectors continue to back him. Rohit Sharma even urged critics to leave Pant alone and let him play with freedom while the legendary Sunil Gavaskar says pressure is bound to be there when one is playing for India.
"I agree with both the versions of Rohit and Sunny sir. Rishabh is going through a bit of a rough period. He needs a couple of good knocks that can bring him back to his best. I had a discussion with the team management on this and they said that they are seriously working on him to bring him back to his best," Prasad, who is nearing the end of his term, told PTI.
"With regard to the point raised regarding pressure, Rishabh should definitely realise that pressure is part of this game at this level and the one who comes out of this pressure is a true champion. He has live examples in front of him in Virat and Rohit."
Prasad, who was appointed as the selection committee chief in 2016, said Pant should never try to fill Dhoni's big boots.
"Rishabh should also realise that he has his own identity and he should never compare himself with MS Dhoni which I feel is working on his mind. Dhoni built his career and image playing for over a decade and a half. His confidence stems from his stellar performances both at domestic and international levels.
"Suddenly when one starts comparing himself with that legend, then subconsciously you are putting enormous pressure on yourself. Personally I feel Rishabh is an unbelievable talent and he should believe and back his abilities and instincts rather than stepping into someone else's shoes," added the 44-year-old former India wicketkeeper-batsman who played six Tests and 17 ODIs.
In the past as well, Prasad has spoken about Pant's rare talent and the southpaw was seen as the heir apparent to Dhoni whose future remains an intense subject of speculation as he has not played since India lost to New Zealand in the World Cup semifinal in July.
Some players don't get a lot of opportunities while the likes of KL Rahul, who has lost his place in the Test side but remains a constant in the limited-overs set-up, and Pant get a longer rope.
Prasad backed both of them to do justice to their rich talent.
"KL and Rishabh are supremely talented. They are match-winners and they can single-handedly take the game away from the opposition. Having identified this immense potential in both of them, our committee has backed them despite dip in their form."
"I am sure both of them will bounce back strong from the current form and help Indian team to win many matches in times to come," he added.
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