'Pant's fitness not up to the mark. Rohit too isn't very fit': Ex-PAK star tears into Indian pair, cites Kohli's example
Against South Africa, Rishabh Pant drew criticism for perishing in the same way in all four innings – attempting to fetch the ball from wide outside off stump and being caught.
The recent India-South Africa Twenty20 series may have ended in a 2-2 draw, but stand-in skipper Rishabh Pant made headlines for his leadership and mediocre showing with the willow. The 24-year-old wicketkeeper-batter managed scores of just 29, 5, 6 and 17 in the series with the fifth and final game washed out. He drew criticism for perishing in the same way in all four innings – attempting to fetch the ball from wide outside off stump and being caught. His pattern of getting out also led to batting great Sunil Gavaskar saying the youngster "hasn't learned" from earlier dismissals and "he keeps going for it".
While many fans and pundits feel Pant may find it hard to retain his place, especially when in-form Dinesh Karthik has emerged as a worthy candidate for either side of the sticks. The rash shot selection has also led to Danish Kaneria bringing Pant's fitness in the picture.
The former Pakistan tweaker feels the Indian needs to work on his fitness levels. He cited the example of Virat Kohli and said the current all-format captain Rohit Sharma isn't fit as well.
"Rishabh Pant's fitness is not up to the mark and is very low. I would say it's rather mediocre. There was a massive change in terms of the team's fitness standards when Kohli took over the captaincy. But Pant is lagging behind when compared to others," said Kaneria on his official YouTube channel.
"Although Rohit Sharma's too isn't very fit, he is a batter, and it is fine for him. But Pant has to improve his fitness as he is a wicketkeeper. Even at this young age, we've seen how he hasn't been able to crouch properly while keeping in recent games.
"This is due to his weight issues. It has an effect on his flexibility too. He plays with an approach of hitting the bowlers right from the onset. Mental toughness and maturity will also only come with fitness," he said.
Kaneria also spoke about Karthik's return to the national fold on the back of a stellar IPL season. The former leg-spinner feels Karthik's re-emergence and fitness at the age of 37 will make life difficult for Pant.
"When you see Dinesh Karthik, he is super fit even at this age. We've seen that in his batting as well as wicketkeeping. Pant may have scored 70-odd in the warmup game, but he hasn't been consistent and his graph is going down. He will have to fight for his place in the team as there are other options like Dinesh Karthik, Ishan Kishan and Sanju Samson," added Kaneria.