Great opportunity for Pant in Dhoni’s absence: Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli (L) and Rishabh Pant batting together against Bangladesh during the ICC World Cup 2019. (AFP Image)

Even though the uncertainty surrounding MS Dhoni‘s future continues to grow, rest assured, India are looking ahead. And one particular player who will have all eyes fixated on him is Rishabh Pant, Dhoni’s successor behind the stumps. In the World Cup 2019, Pant flew in as replacement for the injured Shikhar Dhawan and played four games in which he scored 116 runs.

ALSO READ – India vs West Indies 1st T20: Mission T20 World Cup begins In Florida

Pant has played 15 T20Is, tallying 233 runs an at average of 19.41. Even though these aren’t great numbers by any stretch of imagination, the team management believes Pant is a long-term player and continues to invest on him. India’s next target is the T20 World Cup in Australia next October, and in all probability, with Dhoni unlikely to last till then, the next one year will be extremely crucial for the 21-year-old Pant.

ALSO READ: Questions for Kohli’s India team before first T20I

India captain Virat Kohli, on the eve of India’s first T20 against West Indies at Lauderhill, Florida feels no different. Backing Pant, Kohli stressed that in the absence of Dhoni, the West Indies series is a great opportunity for Pant to come forward and make a name in the shorter format with one eye on T20 World Cup.

ALSO READ: Five head-to-head battles to look out for

“It’s a great opportunity for someone like Rishabh Pant to really play a lot of international cricket, show his credentials, really unleash his potential at this stage,” Kohli said. “We know how much ability he has and we all want him to become a consistent performer for the Indian cricket team. MS’s experience is always going to be a very crucial factor but having said that some of these younger guys have a great opportunity ahead of them and they should just look forward to it.”

However, indications are that Pant might have to wait for his opportunity. Strong spells of rains over the last couple of days limited India’s training session to just fielding drills on Thursday and washed out their entire practice session on Saturday. With more rain on the horizon, the chances of the match taking place look grim. India last played at the venue in 2016, also against West Indies, with both teams combining to score almost 500 runs in 40 overs. Kohli, one of the members of the squad three years back, feels the surface will offer plenty of runs.

“I think the covers look the same,” Kohli said about his visit in 2016. “We haven’t seen the pitch, we haven’t seen anything apart from the covers on the pitch. When we play tomorrow, we can assess how the pitch has come along. Even last time we played, it was pretty good, high-scoring, and we all had a lot of fun playing here, and this time is going to be no different.”