Former India cricketer Yuvraj Singh called for an end to the constant criticism of Rishabh Pant, saying the young stumper-batsman desperately needs guidance from captain Virat Kohli or anyone who can understand his psyche.
Yuvraj said Pant doesn’t deserve the criticism coming his way and needs the support of Kohli and head coach Ravi Shastri to overcome the slump. Pant has been drawing flak for failing to grab his chances and getting out to rash shots despite being given a long rope by the Indian team management.
“I really don’t know what is happening with him (Rishabh). He is facing a lot of criticism which is not needed. Somebody needs to get the best out of him,” Yuvraj said on the sidelines of ‘The Sports Movement’ summit of the India On Track organisation.
Pant struggled during the away series against the West Indies last month before failing to ake an impact in the recent home T20 International series against South Africa.
“The people monitoring him, the coach (Ravi Shastri), the captain (Kohli) have to guide him,” the former left-handed batsman added.
The former swashbuckler, who retired from international cricket earlier this year at the age of 37, said Pant needs to be given confidence to overcome the drop in form after a spectacular start which fetched him Test hundreds in England and Australia in his maiden year at the top level.
“At the moment the thing is in IPL, the young guys are getting a lot of money. So somebody needs to tell them how to go about their business and tell them what is their priority. Somebody really needs to talk to them,” Yuvraj said.
“That guy has got two away Test hundreds. He has a lot of potential. He is an outstanding talent. Someone should know how to read him, how to encourage him, point him what he needs to focus on,” he added.
Pant is seen as an heir apparent to the iconic Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who led India to two world titles.
“If you feel he is the most talented wicket-keeper batsman we have then stick with him, give him more chances. Go and tell him to play domestic cricket. You need to give him confidence, by criticising you won’t get anything out of him,” he said.
Yuvraj said the 21-year-old should be looked after psychologically.
“How you get the best out of him is completely based on his character. You need to understand his character, you need to understand his psychology and work according to that.
“If you are going to suppress him, you are not going to get the best out of him,” he added.
Shastri had recently stated that Pant let the team down with his rash dismissals during the series against West Indies last month and the wicketkeeper-batsman would be given a rap on the knuckle every time he fails to value his wicket.
“I always felt that in the Indian team, when things didn’t go well, there was no one to talk on the mental side of the players till Gary Kirsten and Paddy Upton came,” he recalled.
“So we need somebody to talk to these guys, ask them what are their feelings about the game, what can be done to make them play better,” Yuvraj said.
Discussions on Dhoni’s future unfair, only he can take that call
The never-ending chatter around Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s future is “unfair” and the decision to retire rests solely with the World Cup-winning captain, Yuvraj Singh said.
Dhoni’s future in international cricket has been a subject of intense speculation since the conclusion of the ICC World Cup in July, and the 38-year-old himself has been on a sabbatical for more than two months.
“I think it’s unfair to him. The guy (Dhoni) has done so much for Indian cricket. He has been the most successful Indian captain, so you got to give him time,” Yuvraj said.
“He needs to decide when he wants to go out. He needs to take that call. If he wants to still play, that’s his call and we need to respect that,” he added.
Yuvraj, who retired from international cricket earlier this year at the age of 37, said it would be difficult to fill in Dhoni’s gloves when he decides to call it a day.
He also said that it is not fair to compare young Rishabh Pant with a decorated cricketer like Dhoni.
“It is unfair to compare him (Rishabh) with MS (Dhoni). It took a lot of years to become M S Dhoni and it will take a lot of years for Rishabh Pant to go close to him,” Yuvraj said.
“MS Dhoni’s replacement is going to take a lot of time.”