MUMBAI: India batsman Rishabh Pant needs to improve his off-side game if he wants to graduate from being a one-trick pony, former Australia batsman Dean Jones said.
The young stumper-batsman is perceived as Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s natural successor in limited overs cricket for India when the former captain eventually hangs up his gloves.
But the 22-year-old has received lots of flak lately from India’s coaching staff, pundits and the media after losing his wicket through loose shots and his position in the India Test side has been taken by fit-again Wriddhiman Saha.
“He’s still a young kid, still learning his craft, still doesn’t know what’s going on a little bit,” Jones, who now works as a television media pundit, said in an interview. “He needs to work more on his strokeplay through the offside. At the moment, he’s just a bit of a one-trick pony.
“We know he’s got an off-side game, he’s just got to work more. It wouldn’t take long to change but he needs to be very specific in his training programme right now.”
Jones, an expert for Star Sports’ Select Dugout, cited the example of South Africa stumper-batsman Quinton de Kock, who top-scored for them in the recent Twenty20 series in India.
“Quinton de Kock changed his game, that was very evident in the last T20 series against India,” said Jones, who played 52 Tests and 164 one-day internationals for Australia.
“Everyone thought he struggled to hit the ball between point and mid-off and they bowled there. But through lots of net practice and good technique work, he hit a lot of boundaries.
“And all of a sudden they couldn’t line him up properly because he had other options to score.”
Pant played 11 Tests in the absence of the injured Saha and used his chances well, hitting a century in an Oval Test against England last year while smashing an unbeaten 159 versus Australia in Sydney in January.
His six-hitting ability makes him a limited-overs asset, but India head coach Ravi Shastri and batting coach Vikram Rahour have said in recent interviews that the left-hander’s shot selection has occasionally let the team down.
Pant played within himself and seemed to curb his natural instincts in his 26-ball knock of 27 during India’s loss to Bangladesh in the first T20 in Delhi on Sunday.