Rishabh Pant a great asset for our team: Shikhar Dhawan
He can take the game away from the opposition in a hurry - Shikhar Dhawan on Rishabh Pant. (AFP Image)

One of the biggest talking points for India heading into the T20I series against New Zealand is Rishabh Pant. The young wicketkeeper batsman found no place in the ODI series against New Zealand with MS Dhoni back in the squad. With the former captain’s good form with the bat has assured him, Dhoni has pretty much secured his position as India’s wicketkeeper batsman.

As for Pant, he can still hope to make a strong case as a batsman, this T20I series will be a great starting point for him. For starters, Pant has found support from his India and Delhi teammate Shikhar Dhawan, who termed the youngster an asset and expects him to make the most of this chance.

“He’s an aggressive batsman and he can take away the game from the opposition in a jiffy. He’s a great asset for our team and I’m sure that he will grab this opportunity with both hands,” Dhawan said on the eve of the first T20I in Wellington.

As far as his own batting is concerned, Dhawan sounded pleased with the way he is batting at the moment. A big score might have eluded him, but the left-hander has started batting with a lot more aggression and fluency, which as per him, is more of a mental change than a technical one.

“I feel like it’s a change of mindset and it depends on the type of wicket we are playing on. If there’s not much swing, naturally I feel that I’ve got a lot of shots to offer. That is how automatically the strike rate goes up,” Dhawan said.

“My last T20 season went really well and I’ll like to keep going with the same mindset and approach. Of course, this format demands aggressive batting and I’ll try to display it tomorrow and in the further matches.”

Dhawan reckoned he and the Indian team were content playing five ODIs and that they had no issues with switching to T20 mode despite the World Cup knocking on the door. As part of their final preparation for the World Cup in England starting May 30, India’s next ODI assignment are five matches against Australia at home, but many believed it was a better idea to play a longer ODI series against New Zealand than slot in a T20 series as well. Dhawan, however, dismissed the notion.

“I think we’ve played enough of one-dayers; five ODIs I think are more than enough. Now it’s good that we play some T20s. At the end, we are humans and our bodies need rest. We’ll take 4-1 and happily head home,” Dhawan said.

“As a team, we’re going to want to win this series. We won the ODIs and we’d like to finish on a high note. It’s always good to get wins under your belt. You feel that you want to take that momentum home once we play the series against Australia.”

Dhawan has time and again been spotted facing the tennis ball in the nets, and on Tuesday too, the batsman was seen taking throw downs from batting coach Sanjay Bangar. He went on to reveal the motive behind doling tennis balls drills, mentioning that it’s more than just to improve his reflexes against the short ball.

“When I practice with tennis ball, and I do that to prepare to tackle the bouncer. I believe it repetitive skills and muscle memory,” Dhawan said. “I feel if I keep hitting the same shot, I get better at it. At the nets, when we are facing the bowler or throwdowns, it’s not as consistent. If I want to practice the drives, it’s not like they can bowl to be that line and length.”