During the U-19 World Cup at Bangladesh in January, India skipper Ishan Kishan showed poor attitude at the nets. Coach Rahul Dravid made his displeasure clear by warning Kishan as the team demanded better application from the skipper at the crease.
When Kishan did not take note, Dravid turned to wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant to do the job for him. “Iss ko side pe leke jaa aur samjha (Take him aside and make him understand),” Dravid asked Pant.
Pant and Kishan are attacking batsmen but the Delhi youngster stands apart for his calm head. After the World Cup, Pant may have taken a while to gain momentum, but he now leads the Ranji run chart with 799 runs , which include four centuries and a triple against Maharashtra.
Kishan isn’t far behind, sixth with 599 runs, including three centuries and a double hundred against Delhi.
On Tuesday, Rishabh Pant continued his form and scored a 59-ball 75 against Rajasthan. A versatile batsman, Pant owes his success to improved mental approach. In the last Ranji season, he threw away starts, but this year, he has shown maturity and the long innings prove the point. Coach Tarak Sinha said Pant’s mental approach had helped him beat the odds.
“He had to be handled better mentally. At this level, only a mentally strong player manages to carve a way for himself to the top. This year, we have focused on setting small targets in batting rather than thinking too far ahead. I am happy he is focusing on short bursts and knows the importance of scoring heavily. I told him that no matter what, you have to stay in the top five run-getters as that is the only way to get noticed. Lastly, I have told him to play his shots till the time he is not playing across the line. He is playing straight and I am fine with it,” said Sinha.
Kishan has been an under-performer after the U-19 World Cup. His 2016 IPL was poor, scoring just 42 runs in five games for the Gujarat Lions. Turning out for Jharkhand on the domestic circuit, he played nine innings but consistency is still an issue even though he has three centuries.
Pant, on the other hand, has been consistent and if he continues to score, he could make a strong case for himself.