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The positivity in the Indian dressing room is infectious – Pant

The youngster speaks about the confidence he’s garnered from the India A stint, maiden Test call-up and his keenness to learn more.

The Indian Premier League has been a turning ground for a lot of youngsters keen to stage their talent and hone their skills. It’s been a platform that has given the senior men’s cricket team, talented candidates who have proved their mettle at the big stage.

Rishabh Pant too grabbed eye-balls this season, when he amassed 684 runs for Delhi Daredevils and was a lone ranger for the team in terms of scoring quick runs.

The 20-year old youngster, after cementing his spot in the list A games for his state, is now on course to grab a spot in the senior men’s team. After having made his T20 debut last year, Pant was recently named in the Test squad for India against England as an understudy to Dinesh Karthik. He showed great potential with red ball cricket against England Lions at Worcester and scored a fighting half-century in an otherwise poor show by India A. His 58 failed to save India A the blushes, but his inclusion in the Test side for the first time promises a productive season for the young gun.

Cricket pundits have been of the view that, if given an opportunity, Pant has the potential to be as dangerous as Adam Gilchrist batting at No 6 and 7 for India.

India ‘A’ and U-19 coach, Rahul Dravid too was all praise for Pant and iterated that, “He is a very talented player. He showed in three or four innings that he was willing to bat differently. We all know the way he bats. Even in the 2017-18 Ranji Trophy season when he got over to 900 runs his S/R was 100 plus and we have seen him bat similarly in the IPL as well.

He has the temperament and skills to bat differently. He is always going to be an attacking player but reading of the situation when you are playing red ball cricket is required. We are glad he has been picked into the national team and I hope he takes this maturity into the national team and hopefully builds from thereon.”

We at BCCI.TV caught up with the youngster and found out about his performances, preparations and keenness to learn from this Indian dressing room.


What was your first reaction when you heard about your inclusion in the Indian Test squad?

It was a great feeling to hear that I had been included in the Indian Test squad. I always wanted to be a part of the Indian Test squad and it was more like a dream come true for me. It was an amazing feeling, not only for me but also for my family and my coach Tarek Sinha sir, who helped me understand the game very early in my life. He has always wanted me to play Test cricket for India and when I got the call, he was very happy and proud and I enjoyed that moment.

You had a great run of form in the IPL, followed by your inclusion in the India A squad for one-day fixtures and then you were also included in the four-day match too. Tell us what is the difference in preparation when it comes to white ball and red ball cricket.

I reckon there isn’t too much difference, but it has got more to do with shot selection. In red ball cricket, with the field placements, you can look around; take your time, because you have five days to play. Whereas in limited overs cricket you have limited number of balls to play and score.

I have so far enjoyed my preparation with red ball cricket. The duke ball swings a lot when you’re here in England and initially when I started playing here with India A, I realized that the swing will come a lot into play in these conditions.

The cricket pundits have been comparing you with the legendary Adam Gilchrist. Thoughts?

I always see everything as an opportunity coming my way. Especially as a wicket-keeper batsman in India, wherein, there aren’t too many options for the spot. Therefore, whatever opportunity I get, I try and optimize it.

Adam Gilchrist has been my idol when it comes to keeping wickets and I used to watch him all the time as a youngster. But, at this moment, I’m learning a lot from people around me like Rahul Dravid Sir, Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli and I try and improve my game every day.

How was your experience with the India A, especially with Rahul Dravid around?

The only thing he always tells me is that you need to be patient about everything, be it on the field or off it. Also, how I need to work harder on my game when it comes to red ball cricket since I’m a positive batsman, but at times you need to play to the situation. See the pace of the game and change your game accordingly. These have been my learning from him wherein he has helped me a lot.

Learning from the Indian dressing room so far?

Every time I come to the Indian dressing room, there is one thing that has always stood out for me. It is the positivity in the dressing room. Everyone is supporting and backing each other, which is the most important factor about this Indian dressing room. And, like always, whenever I needed any support from Mahi bhai, I used to ask him. From my IPL contract to my wicket-keeping, he’s advised me on everything.

He’s always told me that when it comes to wicket-keeping, your hands and head is important, the body balance can come into play later, but the key is the hands and head coordination. I worked on what he told me and it has helped me a lot.

You’ve spent a lot of time in England and this is going to be a huge benefit. Tell us about those knock against England Lions and the second four-day game against West India A and the confidence you gathered from it?

Whenever I walk into bat, I go with the mindset of what the team needs from me. In the game against West Indies A, there was a situation wherein I had to be more patient because there were enough overs and therefore I took my time and got India home.

Also, in the game against England Lions, India A were not in a good position. We had lost four to five wickets and Ajju bhaiya (Ajinkya Rahane) and I were batting and I had to play according to the situation. So, I thought I’m going to take my own time and get set because in red ball cricket that’s what you do – you need to take your own time and play as per the situation.

Rajlaxmi Arora
Rajlaxmi Arora

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We’ve managed to get better results by not stressing on outcomes: Rahul Dravid

The India A coach reflects on the successful tour of the UK and his behind-the-scenes role to keep the feeder line bursting with talent

In different corners of England over the last one-month, Indian cricketers of various age groups were busy playing different forms of the game. The senior team was engaged in white-ball battles while the India A members who had arrived earlier had moved on to the red ball after a clinching a fine victory in the one-day tri-series at The Oval over England Lions, the home team.

Soon after that final, Deepak Chahar and Krunal Pandya joined the senior T2OI side while Axar Patel and Shardul Thakur completed the ODI squad. The India A team played three-first class game and at the end of the sojourn, captain Karun Nair, wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant found themselves in the all-important Test squad.

Having a pool of players that can take up responsibility at the top level whenever there is a need and not let vacuum develop when a senior player in the national side is injured is something that Rahul Dravid and his team of support staff are looking to achieve.

The former India captain explains that in great detail in this interview with bcci.tv

How would you sum up India A’s Tour to England? The team won the one-day tri-series and played three four-day games.

This has been a pretty successful tour of the UK both in the one-day and the four-day games that we played here. Winning the one-day series was nice and we got a couple of good results against West Indies A. It was a bit disappointing to lose our last game of the tour against England Lions.

From a coaching perspective, there were a lot of lessons that we learnt through the course of this trip. There were some challenging wickets that we got to play on and the quality of the opposition was very good as well. On tours like these, I feel the critical element is not so much the result, but it is really about the exposure and opportunities that you give to the players. Most of them are pushing for selection into the national side. It is an opportunity for them to learn how to play in these conditions against a tougher opposition and to see where they actually stand.

The level here is above the first-class level and just below the international level. When you consider all the factors, I feel we had a really good tour. We found ourselves under pressure both in the one-day and the four-day games and we found people to step up and deliver performances. We had a lot of positives and some learning as well. We definitely could have done better in the batting department in the final game, but against a strong England Lions side, it was a great lesson for the batsmen on how to play in English conditions.

Deepak Chahar and Krunal Pandya were named in India’s T20I squad. Axar Patel and Shardul Thakur in the ODI squad being with the India A team. Shardul, Karun Nair and Rishabh Pant are also in the Test squad. Is this the very motive of having shadow tours that BCCI is now planning where the A team travels just before the senior side?

It is a great idea to have shadow tours. It may not be always possible, but whenever it is possible, it is highly beneficial. A lot of players have joined the national side from this team. It also gave an opportunity to Ajinkya Rahane and M Vijay to come down and spend time with us and play a practice game that was competitive and tough.

Having the India A team tour before the national side opens up many possibilities in terms of preparations for both the sides. It also serves as motivation for many players, for they know when they do well on A tours, they will be picked in the national team.

You have seen Rishabh Pant from a young age. He has now got a maiden call-up to the Test side. From shorter formats to longer, how has this transformation been for him?

Rishabh was quite excellent on the tour. He is obviously a very talented player. He showed in three or four innings that he was willing to bat differently. We all know the way he bats. Even in the 2017-18 Ranji Trophy season when he got over to 900 runs his S/R was 100 plus and we have seen him bat similarly in the IPL as well.

On this trip, we challenged him a lot to bat according to the situation. He got a critical 64 (not out) in the one-day final when he was the last recognized batsman and also against West Indies A when he put on a 100-run partnership with Jayant Yadav.

He showed that he could bat differently. He has the temperament and skills to bat differently. He is always going to be an attacking player but reading of the situation when you are playing red ball cricket is required. We are glad he has been picked in the national team and I hope he takes this maturity into the national team and hopefully builds from thereon.

With India having such a vast talent pool and with so many skilful players around, giving them game-time and nurturing them must be something very challenging.

I think the biggest challenge is the quality of players and the number of players. All those who are part of the India A sides are those who have performed and deserve an opportunity to play. It is not easy to give everyone an opportunity but we try our best and rotate the squad as much as possible. We ensure everyone gets a game if not two.

We don’t focus on results and in fact, by doing that, we are getting good results. The quality is there not only in the playing XI, but the whole squad. Yes, the challenge is there and you feel for the boys. We are now organizing more A tours and it gives them an opportunity and also the selectors an opportunity to look at them and rotate the squad.

For me, the A tours are a step up from domestic cricket. It is really a good barometer for them and the selectors to see whether they can perform or not. If they don’t do well it is still a good opportunity to learn and go back to domestic cricket and work on the things they need to. It is a very good buffer to have in between, as you don’t get exposed at the Test level. It gives a very good test of where these boys are and an understanding of the skills that need to be worked on both in bowling and batting.

BCCI Staff

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