Former Indian batsman VVS Laxman says Rishabh Pant is running out of time to justify the time the team management has reposed in him and could lose his place to Sanju Samson if he does not regain his form soon.
Laxman said that the inclusion of Sanju Samson in the squad against the West Indies for the three T20 Internationals is a “strong message” for Pant to win or succeed.
“The team management and the selection committee have passed on a strong message that we got a backup in the form of Sanju Samson. Rishabh Pant has been given a lot of opportunities and I’m sure that they will be communicating and giving him that security within that group,” Laxman said.
“But then ultimately the player has to justify the faith the team management, the selection committee has been imposing on him,” he said.
“Unfortunately, Rishabh hasn’t been able to do that, but he is that X factor. I still feel that he is an exclusive batsman who can come and change the course of the match just by his ability to hit good balls out of the park.”
Not so long ago, Pant was India’s number one wicketkeeper-batsman in all three formats but for some time now, he has been in an erratic form.
With Wriddhiman Saha back in the team, Pant has now lost his place in Test XI for his lack of runs and poor work with the gloves. His place in the limited-over format has also been questioned.
“As a batsman – there’s no clarity of thoughts, there’s no doubt that he’s under pressure, because how many times have you seen Rishabh Pant when he is in full flow, play, and he has a different mindset and technique against the spinners. I feel he will be under tremendous pressure to retain his place in the playing eleven,” Laxman said.
The 45-year-old former batsman said Pant is still India’s first-choice wicketkeeper-batsman ahead of Samson for the T20 World Cup next year, but veteran MS Dhoni is also very much on the frame. Since India’s semifinal exit from the ODI World Cup in England in July, Dhoni has been on a sabbatical. He missed South Africa and Bangladesh’s West Indies tour and home series.
The 38-year-old also misses the limited-over home assignment against the West Indies starting on December 6.
“I think MS Dhoni will wait with patience to see the performance of Rishabh Pant and Sanju Samson. I am sure he will do well like he has done whenever he plays and leads CSK,” said Laxman about Dhoni’s future.
“If both these youngsters don’t grab their opportunities, probably there is a thought that MS Dhoni can come back provided he shows that form in the IPL leading up to the World Cup.
“At the moment Rishabh Pant would be the first choice, his back up would be Sanju Samson and if both these youngsters don’t grab these opportunities, then you can probably look at MS Dhoni, keeping mind how he performs in the IPL,” he added.