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Posted at: Jun 20, 2019, 7:24 AM; last updated: Jun 20, 2019, 7:24 AM (IST)

Pant comes into the picture

Dhawan’s injury paves way for the youngster to shine on the big stage

Rohit Mahajan at the World Cup

Southampton, June 19

For the Indian team, the injury-induced loss of Shikhar Dhawan is irreparable; the blow is softened by the inclusion in the team of the young, dashing strokeplayer, Rishabh Pant.

Pant is an exciting striker of the ball and doesn’t lack fans — men including Sunil Gavaskar, Ricky Ponting and Kevin Pietersen. “In the way he bats, he’s sort of another Adam Gilchrist,” Ponting said earlier this year.

Ponting could be accused of bias, for he is the chief coach of Delhi Capitals, the IPL team for which Pant plays. Yet, Pant’s brilliance is beyond doubt; he’s already made two Test 100s, including a scintillating 159 in Sydney in January this year.

There have been question marks over Pant’s keeping skills, and his rush-of-blood shots that frequently cause his downfall as batsman. Former players believe that Pant will improve, though; Dhawan’s loss is immense, but in Pant, India do have the man who could fill Dhawan’s boots.

Team situation

But that’s easier said than done: Dhawan has a fantastic record in ICC events in the UK. He was India’s top-scorer in the Champions Trophy in 2013 and 2017 — India won the title in 2013 and reached the final in 2017. He had also topped India’s run-scoring charts at the 2015 World Cup in Australia.

One thing is for sure — Pant will feel at home with the Indian team. After he landed in the UK to join the Indian team, Pant has joined the training and bonding sessions with the Indian team. He’s a cheerful lad, the team is winning and his presence has caused ringing laughter and jokes in the Indian training sessions. Sanjay Manjrekar, the cricketer-commentator, noted in a recent article: “So, a Rishabh Pant enters the Indian team, breathes that air and that’s what he becomes — a confident young player ready to beat the world.”

From the evidence of the training sessions, Kohli seems to be making the effort to make Pant feel at home. This augurs well for India.

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