Rishabh Pant: I loved batting at No 4 during World Cup
Rishabh Pant was inconsistent during the 2019 World Cup. © AFP

His returns in the No 4 spot for India during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 were middling, but Rishabh Pant has revealed that despite initially not being named for the tournament, he had prepared keeping in mind that batting role.

Pant was omitted from India’s World Cup squad as the BCCI selection committee opted to recall Dinesh Karthik, but once Shikhar Dhawan injured himself the Delhi wicketkeeper-batsman was flown to England. When Dhawan was ruled out of the World Cup, Pant joined India’s squad as his replacement.

He batted at No 4 four times, with returns of 32, 48, 4 and 32. Despite never entirely looking convincing in that position, Pant said he was not worried by criticism.

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“I loved batting at No. 4. It was nothing new for me as I have played at No. 4 before, like in the IPL. I had been practicing for the same role,” he told Hindustan Times. “There is no specific way or style I play in. I always play according to situation. I don’t know what people say, because I don’t read newspapers much.”

MS Dhoni and Rishabh Pant ians
MS Dhoni has reportedly entered a transition phase wherein he will mentor Pant. AFP

Pant, 22, has been chosen as India’s designated wicketkeeper across formats for the upcoming tour of the West Indies – the first time in his career that he will do so. While he has been India’s first pick as Test wicketkeeper since the tour of England in 2018, Pant has kept wickets in two of his nine ODIs and in three of 15 T20Is.

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“I know those are big shoes to fill, but if I start thinking about it there will be a problem,” he said of replacing Dhoni in ODIs and T20Is. “Right now, I am not thinking about what people say. I am just focusing on what I have to do.

“My coach has always told me one thing: every year you have to add something to your game. You can’t stagnate because now the technology is so good that you have to keep improving and add on things each and every day of your career. That’s what I try to do. I just keep on trying new things. If it helps me, I try it in a match. There are days when I try these new shots in the nets, some days I don’t. It is all part of a long-term process.”

Pant tasted success in Tests first, scoring centuries in England and Australia before getting more chances in India’s limited-overs teams.

“Maybe it did help that I played Test cricket first,” he said. “I got good experience from playing Test cricket. People used to say that Test cricket is the most difficult. So I got to learn a lot, how to build the innings, playing down the order and how to bat with the tail.

“There is learning every day in Test cricket. Especially when you have to walk out to bat after having fielded the entire day. That is a different experience. In ODIs and T20Is especially, things happen very fast.”