Touted as the next-gen star and future of Indian cricket, young wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant is rated extremely high by the fans and pundits for his top-class skill-set and ability to turn the game on its head. Still, in the learning process, Pant’s biggest challenge will be India’s upcoming to Caribbean islands where he will be Team India’s first-choice keeper in absence of legendary MS Dhoni. Dhoni has taken a two-month sabbatical from cricket to serve his Indian army. Also Read - IND vs ENG Live Cricket Score, 4th Test, Day 3: Washington Sundar Stranded on 96* as India Bowled Out For 365; Lead by 160 Runs
The 21-year-old knows he has big shoes to fill as the person whom he will be replacing Dhoni in Team India. Pant spoke about the challenges of replacing Dhoni, both as a batsman and a wicketkeeper in an exclusive interview with Hindustan Times. “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,” he said. Also Read - Rishabh Pant's Reaction After Joining Adam Gilchrist in Elite Club is Priceless
“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.
The Delhi batsman has played almost all his ODI matches with Dhoni, said there are many things to learn from the 38-year-old veteran ace. “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,” he said.
BCCI chief selector MSK Prasad, while announcing the squad for the upcoming West Indies tour, made it very clear that Pant is the future wicket-keeper of Indian cricket and will play in all the three formats of the game.
However, while Pant is being readied with an eye on the 2020 World T20, the team management doesn’t wish for Dhoni to hang his boots as that could create a sudden vacuum in the set-up which will be hard to fill if Pant suffers an injury by any chance going into the next showpiece event.
The left-handed batsman also insisted that the atmosphere within the team’s dressing room is very friendly where anyone can take advice from any other player. “The best thing about this team is that you can talk to anyone and ask them for advice. And if you feel like you have a suggestion, you too can pitch in,” he said.
“Virat bhaiyya always listens, he never thinks like if he is the captain he shouldn’t listen to a youngster. In fact, it gives players like me great confidence that your captain is listening to you, taking your suggestions, even though you are just a youngster. That is a very big deal for me.
“The other senior players also help me a lot. Young players don’t tend to get overawed in such situations when the senior players help you,” he added.
Pant will be the lone wicketkeeper in the limited-overs leg of the West Indies tour which comprises of three T20Is and three ODIs. However, he will be joined by Wriddhiman Saha for the two-Test series, which are part of the ICC Test Championship.