Last year, after Chetan Sharma announced Rohit Sharma as captain of the Indian Cricket team for all formats, he also added that young leaders will be groomed for a long-term replacement. Players like KL Rahul, who is presently the captain of Lucknow Super Giants in IPL 2022, or Pant, who is the captain of Delhi Capitals in IPL 2022, seem to be the natural successors for this role.
Indian veteran Yuvraj Singh, while talking to Sports18, put his faith in Rishabh Pant. According to him, Pant should be groomed to replace Rohit Sharma as the test captain for the long term. Rishabh Pant, apart from his commentary from behind the stumps, is known for his iconic inning in the last match of the Border-Gavaskar trophy which led India to pick the trophy in Australia for the first time. There is no doubt about Rishabh’s capabilities as a wicket-keeper batsman for the Indian team as he has scored 1920 runs in 30 test matches with an average of 40+. To accumulate these many runs he scored four centuries and nine half-centuries.
As a wicket-keeper also he has 100+ catches and 10+ stumps in his account. Surely, his numbers are strong enough to put his name into consideration.
However, there is more to be learned as a leader apart from performing through bats and wicket-keeping gloves. Recently in a match against Rajasthan Royals, he was seen objecting to the field umpire regarding their decision. He was seen calling his batsman back to the dugout in the middle of the match to show his disappointment. Such actions not only drew criticism from many cricket experts but also creates suspicion about his leadership skills. No doubt, sometimes the intensity of a match can lure even players like MSD to go lose their calm, Rishabh Pant did what he thought was best. And, events and situations like these give an opportunity to differentiate between the demand of the moment and the demand of the role.
Presently, Ricky Ponting is the head coach of the Delhi Capitals and Rishabh Pant may not get a better coach to hone his leadership skills, as Ricky himself is considered as all-time greatest captain of the cricket team. Yuvraj Singh while commenting upon Rishabh Pant as future leader mentioned “You must get someone ready. Like Mahi became captain out of nowhere but they made him right! Then he evolved. The keeper is always a good thinker because he always has the best view on the ground”
Rishabh Pant went through a rough phase when he joined the team as a replacement for Dhoni but with time, he has shown his skills and maturity on the ground. He is often considered a jolly wicket-keeper, keeping the spirit up in every situation of the game. His skills of constant engagement with bowlers as well as fielders across the field definitely make Yuvraj’s opinion worth considering.
Coming back to the present, Rohit Sharma will have his own time and matches to lead India, and meanwhile, there is no harm to honing players like Rishabh Pant to lead the team one day. Rishabh Pant is an experienced captain when it comes to leading a team in domestic cricket. He was captain of the Delhi team in Ranji-Trophy 2017/18 at the age of 20 and led the team to be runners-up. When it comes to the maturity of the player, as Yuvraj mentioned, everyone is immature till they get the opportunity to show their maturity. According to this stunning all-rounder and man of the tournament in ODI World Cup 2011 “You pick a young guy (Pant) who can be a future captain, give him time, and don’t expect miracles in the first six months or a year. I feel you must believe in the younger guys to get the job done”
Only time will show how much trust selectors can put on young-energetic leaders like Rishabh Pant and give him the opportunity, even to fail, so that one day he can stand amongst the likes of Ganguly, Dhoni, and Virat.
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