India's stand-in skipper Shikhar Dhawan said under-fire Rishabh Pant is a proven "match-winner" and Sanju Samson will have to wait for his chances. Pant has been brilliant for India in Test cricket but hasn't really been able to ace the two white-ball formats.
In his last nine innings across the two white-ball formats, Pant has scores of 10, 15, 11, 6, 6, 3, 9, 9 and 27. The wicketkeeper-batter has clearly struggled to stamp his authority in T20Is but his numbers in the 50-over format are quite impressive.
In ODIs since 2021, Pant has slammed 491 runs in 12 innings at an average of 44.64 and a strike rate of just 110. However, in the same time frame, Samson has smashed 330 runs in 10 innings at an average of 66 and a strike rate of 104.8. The latter played a crucial knock of 36 in the first ODI but was then left out for the remaining two encounters.
"Overall you have to see the larger picture and who is your match winner. You analyse and your decisions are based on that," said Dhawan after the third ODI was washed out as India lost the three-match series 0-1.
"Of course, Sanju Samson has been doing really well in whatever opportunity he got. But sometimes you got to wait for your chances, because the other player has done well and we know based on his (Pant's) skill that he's a match-winner. So you need to back him when he's not doing well."
Meanwhile, New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson feels it’s not easy for the Indian management to play everyone as there are so many talented players waiting in the wings.
"The Indian team and the country is blessed with so much talent that sometimes you are faced with challenges that you have to weigh out different options. The Indian team and the country is blessed with so much talent that sometimes you are faced with challenges that you have to weigh out different options,” said Williamson.
India won the T20I leg 1-0, while the hosts took the ODI series by an identical margin. However, rain was the clear winner in the six-match white-ball series, with three games being washed out. One match (third T20I) was decided on Duckworth/Lewis method.
"It's frustrating. We can't control rain. But yes, we got opportunities and got a chance to discuss our flaws, and where we can improve. We discuss all that and analyse," Dhawan said.
"The team bonding will be our biggest positive. The main team will now play in Bangladesh. But if one or two may get injured, this experience will come in handy there. The young players from this series will get a chance."
(With inputs from PTI)