Delhi Capitals' explosive wicketkeeper-batsman Rishbah Pant may be out with an injury, but that doesn't stop the experts from analysing his game. The left-handed batsman has scored 176 runs from six innings in Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020 so far, and has struggled for consistency.
West Indies' batting legend Brian Lara analysed Pant's technique on Star Sports' show Select Dugout recently. Lara, the only batsman to score 400 runs in an innings of a Test match, spoke on Pant's predominant on-side play, and reckoned that he needs to move his left foot and head towards the ball rather than standing still in the crease.
“What I have noticed about Rishabh Pant, especially, if he’s batting in the first 10 overs and he’s facing fast bowling, his position tends to be around leg stump. His feet are placed around the leg stump. From there, he’s sort of realised that he’s got to get set first, he’s got to face a few balls, but as the innings go on and we get into the last five overs, he actually picks up a position covering all his stumps. And the reason for that I believe is that he is such an on-sided player, that every opposing bowler is now bowling him wide yorkers and he wants to get as close as possible to the ball so he can hit it."
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"So, instead of having to move his entire body, which he doesn’t, and move his head and feet to the ball, he stands, and he sorts of just delivers his hands to the ball. So, the reason for him covering the stumps and going further on is simply because he’s not actually moving his feet at all.
"So, if he does that, even if he covers the stumps, he stills needs to move his left foot closer and his head closer to the line of the ball to be able to hit it. Because the bowlers and the opposing captains have realised that, and he’s no longer being allowed any delivery between wicket and wicket at the latter stages of the match,” Lara said.
In Pant's absence, Alex Carey made his IPL debut against Mumbai Indians on Sunday, but DC slipped to a five-wicket loss. His skipper, Shreyas Iyer, said that Pant may not return for a week. Carey, a very competent keeper-batsman no doubt, couldn't do much on Sunday, but what hurt Delhi more is their altered team balance. DC will play Rajasthan Royals on Wednesday (14 October).
Earlier on Tuesday, MS Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings registered a 20-run win over Sunrisers Hyderabad. Speaking on Star Sports Select Dugout, former New Zealand cricketer Scott Styris spoke about what makes Dhoni's batting stance stand out, particularly against leg-spinner Rashid Khan.
“I want to show you one thing that I think MS Dhoni does against Rashid Khan, which gets him into trouble," Styris said. "A lot of it is around his mindset. What MS Dhoni thinks when he faces Rashid is that he only wants to rotate the strike. He doesn’t pick the bat up whatsoever, which gives him that attacking option to hit through the line.
"His hands go nowhere and when he takes the stride, he just tries to use his wrists to push the ball into gaps. It’s almost a defensive mindset. He can go defensively and push the ball for one or he can use that cocked and ready loaded power that he possesses and really flow through the ball. I don’t think, he doesn’t tend to get those hands back in an attacking position.
"You watch Kohli and he is ready to go, so if he wants to whack it, he can. Dhoni’s one or the other and that’s part of the problem – it’s all defence or all attack – and I would like to see a mix between the two."
Further, Styris sought to dissect Dhoni's gameplan against pace bowlers as well. Dhoni, Styris concluded, scores most of his runs against pacers on leg side or straight down the ground.
“Since 2018, MS Dhoni, against pace, scores all his boundaries pretty much down the ground or on the leg side. When we look at the percentages, it is almost exclusively 74 percent on the leg side, mainly in front of square, over 50 percent down the long-on and the leg side, which I think tells us where he is strong."
Styris also concluded that teams need to test the former India skipper with the short ball a lot more as the right-hander is far too comfortable on the front foot.
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