Often India’s batting legend Virender Sehwag was asked to alter with his natural game of attacking and try staying on the pitch for a longer time than focusing on scoring big numbers. However, he heard all and did what he had to.
A situation, though not similar to Sehwag’s, arose when young Rishabh Pant was put under pressure of not putting enough premium on his wicket and he understood that there is no concept of “natural game” in international cricket.
Pant said that at a position where one has to play according to the situation, there is not much scope of playing a natural game.
“I’ve realised after playing a fair bit at an international level that unlike at amateur levels of cricket, there isn’t anything like a natural game. At the international level, you have to play according to the situation or what the team demands,” Pant said at the post-match press conference after India lost to West Indies by eight wickets.
The wicketkeeper-batsman, who has often been accused of reckless strokeplay at crucial junctures, leading to soft dismissals, as well as poor work behind the stumps, finally came good and struck his maiden ODI half-century at Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s IPL home.
Pant said he is constantly trying to improve his game and is on a learning curve.
“It’s my learning curve, I’m thinking that. From the team’s point of view, whatever I can do to help my team win, to have a good score on the scoreboard, that’s what I was focussing on. In the end, I got some runs,” he added.
The Delhi boy’s 50 was well received by the team who earlier showed faith in his game, albeit in a losing cause, in the first one-dayer against West Indies at MA Chidambaram Stadium on Sunday (December 15).
He said he will continue to focus on his game rather than think about the “talk going around” about him.
“As an individual and as a player, I want to focus on my processes. All the talk going around, they’re good and sometimes they’re not. At the moment, I’m concentrating on my game and that will hold me in good stead,” said Pant who scored 71 off 69 deliveries for his maiden ODI half-century.
Speaking about what inspired him and kept him going forward despite the constant criticism and comparison with former skipper MS Dhoni, Pant said it was all about believing in himself and following the process of growth.
“I will always tell a person that you have to believe in yourself. It doesn’t matter what people say around you. Sometimes you don’t get runs, sometimes you get runs but the process is always important,” said the wicketkeeper-batsman.
He added that every innings was important for him and he wanted to improve every day, similar to his knock in the current circumstances.
“Personally, if I play for India, every innings is important for me. As a youngster I want to improve each and every day,” Pant said.
Pant has been greeted with chants of ‘Dhoni, Dhoni’ by crowds at various stadiums but not here.
“Sometimes it’s important when crowd supports you. From an individual point of view, I was trying to improve myself every day but I wasn’t getting there. I am not saying I got there, but I try to improve.”
Pant, who revived the Indian innings after the loss of three quick wickets in the company of Shreyas Iyer (70), said the idea was to stitch together a partnership and stay longer on the crease.
“At the start, (Shreyas) Iyer and I were thinking of first stitching together a partnership and taking the game to the 35th-40th over because a 50-over game is a fairly long one. Our idea was that the longer our partnership will be, it’d help us in capitalising late in the innings,” said Pant who plays for Delhi Capitals in the IPL.
Speaking about the Indian bowling line-up missing pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah, Pant backed the current lot and said they were learning. Bumrah is currently recovering from a stress fracture of the back and is expected to be fit for the tour of New Zealand next year.
“Bumrah is a top bowler. Everyone knows that. He’s out because of an injury. The other bowlers who are playing here aren’t doing badly. As youngsters, these guys are learning,” Pant reasoned.
“Bumrah has now become an experienced bowler. He has learned quite a bit having played so much of international cricket. These players will also learn as they go along,” he said.
On his thought process on and off field, he said, “If I’m practicing I think about cricket. If I’m off the field, I’m not thinking about it too much. I talked to the team management and they told me, ‘just calm yourself, see what you can do around to improve your game, improve your fitness, just try to improve yourself in every way’,” he added.
(With inputs from agencies)