The young Rishabh Pant has once again become the talk of the town in Indian cricket. An aggressive left-handed batsman who can also keep wickets was the perfect deal for Team India as they looked to replace the ageing MS Dhoni.
Pant reassured the team management's faith in him with a fantastic foray into Test cricket as he scored 162 in three matches during England tour including his maiden ton of 114 at The Oval. However, his recent run of poor scores has raised few questions over the temperament and consistency of the 21-year-old.
He managed just 69 in three T20I innings, 20 in two ODI innings and 58 in three Test innings in the recent tour of West Indies. Over that, he only accounted for 23 runs in two T20I innings against South Africa as India could only manage a 1-1 draw in the series at home.
Pant's inability to contribute with bat in recent time has also raised a question over his position in Indian team. Reports also suggest he could be pipped by Wriddhiman Saha for a spot in India's XI for the upcoming first Test against South Africa.
However, India head coach Ravi Shastri has now come out in support of his player. In an interview with Hindustan Times, Shastri, who recently spoke about giving a "rap on the knuckles" of Pant for his poor shot selection, defend pulling up the wicketkeeper-batsman and added that the team management will back the player "to the hilt".
"...I spoke about ‘the rap on the knuckles’. If someone goofs up, I have to pull them up. Am I there only to play tabla? But this guy (Pant) is world-class, this guy can be destructive, can be a destroyer. And we will give him all the support that he needs to prosper in international cricket," said Shastri.
Another player who has failed to live up to the billing in recent time is KL Rahul. Out of the Test squad, Rahul has also found it tough to make a place in the team in shorter formats.
Shastri though is confident that Rahul will bounce back into form sooner rather than later.
"You are right when you say frustrating, but that guy (Rahul) is such a serious talent. I believe he is one innings, two innings away; I don’t want to dwell on it and I mean what I say."
The former India cricketer also added that the Virat Kohli-led team just needs to win a world title to be regarded as the "best Indian team ever".
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A controversy erupted after Pakistan last Thursday named uncapped Azam, son of former captain Moin Khan, in the T20 squad for the tours of England and West Indies, with many believing that his father is behind his selection.
Check out the LIVE scorecard of first Test between West Indies and South Africa at St Lucia.
The men's team was accompanied by the women's side that is touring England for three ODIs and as many T20s besides the one-off Test, starting in Bristol on 16 June.