Young Indian wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant has said that he is ready for the challenge of filling in the ‘big shoes’ of veteran Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Following India’s cricket World Cup campaign where they suffered a semifinal exit after their loss to New Zealand, Dhoni decided to take a break from cricket and serve with the Territorial Army in Kashmir from 31 July to 15 August. The Jharkhand cricketer was awarded the honorary rank of Lieutenant Colonel in 2011.
“I know those are big shoes to fill, but if I start thinking about it there will be a problem. Right now, I am not thinking about what people say. I am just focusing on what I have to do,” Pant was quoted saying by the Hindustan Times.
The 21-year-old was recently selected in all of India’s squads for the West Indies tour. Virat Kohli and Co will play three T20Is, as many ODIs and two Tests with the first T20I on 3 August in Florida, United States.
The Uttarakhand-born cricketer, meanwhile, has stated that he is clearly focused on playing his game.
“I just want to do well for my country. That’s the only thing I am focusing on. I take the challenge positively. Now I have to see what I can learn, and what I can do to improve,” he added.
Pant heaped praise on Dhoni, stating that he was eager to learn more from seniors like him.
“The way he reads the game, that is the first thing. Then, he is always very calm in pressure situations. There are many things to learn from him. And off the field he is always very helpful too. I look to always keep learning from the seniors,” the southpaw continued.
The youngster, who has played nine Tests, as many ODIs and 15 T20Is also expressed his eagerness to try new batting techniques and also revealed that it was part of a long-term process.
“My coach has always told me one thing: every year you have to add something to your game. You can’t stagnate because now the technology is so good that you have to keep improving and add on things each and every day of your career.
“That’s what I try to do. I just keep on trying new things. If it helps me, I try it in a match. There are days when I try these new shots in the nets, some days I don’t. It is all part of a long-term process,” the Delhi Capitals player added.
Pant also revealed the reason behind shifting from Roorkee in Uttarakhand to Delhi.
“The decision (to shift to Delhi) was my father’s because at that time Uttarakhand did not have BCCI affiliation.
“So he knew that there was no point playing in Uttarakhand and that I had to move out somewhere. That is why he sent me to Delhi. If you are going out of your state, you are taking a risk.
“But then I had to take it because if I had continued playing in Roorkee, there would have been no point in playing cricket,” he stated.
Pant also went onto say that his family has been supportive in his cricketing career.
“My family supported me at every step, whatever situation I found myself in. My family was always with me, backed me and helped me. It was challenging, of course.
“Everyone has a (difficult) journey. I also had one. But I knew that at the end of the day, I’ll get success sooner or later,” he commented.