Should Rishabh Pant open the innings for India in T20Is? Sanjay Bangar on potential Sachin Tendular-esque move


Former India all-rounder and batting coach Sanjay Bangar said Rishabh Pant can be tried as an opener in T20Is, saying a similar move helped Sachin Tendulkar flourish in the shorter formats of the game. Bangar stressed the need to back Pant but urged the team management to try out new things to make the most of the wicketkeeper-batter’s proven match-winning ability.

Rishabh Pant was named India’s stand-in captain for the recently-concluded T20I series against South Africa but his place in the shortest format of the side has been questioned. Pant failed to get going in the 5-match series, managing just 58 runs in 5 innings. Pant’s inability to get going in the middle-order invited criticism even as he got out chasing wide deliveries on more than one occasion.

Even as the likes of Hardik Pandya and Dinesh Karthik were shining in the lower middle order, Pant struggled to find the right balance between aggression and control while batting at the No. 4 spot in the absence of the likes of Virat Kohli and Suryakumar Yadav.

Bangar, speaking to Star Sports, said Sachin Tendulkar found consistency after he was sent up to open the innings in ODi cricket and Pant can do something similar to what Adam Gilchrist did for Australia in the shorter formats of the game if given an opportunity at the top.

“I’ve been thinking about it for 3 years. If you look at Sachin Tendulkar’s career, he hit his first century in his 75th or 76th innings when he was asked to open the innings against New Zealand after batting largely in the middle-order,” Bangar told Star Sports.

“Right now, the Indian team is looking at a left-right combination. Yes, Ishan Kishan is doing good right now, but if the Indian team is eyeing a left-right opening pair for the long term, Rishabh Pant can do the same job that someone like Adam Gilchrist did for Australia,” he added.

Pant has batted as high as No. 3 in T20Is but the wicketkeeper’s numbers in the shortest format of the game are far from impressive. Unlike his Test heroics, Pant has managed just 741 runs in 48 T20is at an average of less than 24.

PANT IN POWERPLAY?

Meanwhile, former India pacer Irfan Pathan backed Bangar’s comments, saying Pant will have the freedom to target bowlers in the powerplay and sending him higher up the order in the future will not be a bad option.

However, Pathan pointed out that Ishan Kishan is developing into a good back-up opener option for the senior national team in T20I cricket.

“We’re talking about off-side for a long time now. But when does it happen? When the field opens up,” Pathan said.

“Can we use Rishabh Pant in the powerplay where the bowlers can’t give enough width? Yes, there will be challenges because the ball will swing early on, but then, Rishabh Pant is a quality batter. So, I’m thinking along those lines. It may not be right now, but maybe in the future,” he added.

Pant will not be part of the T20i series in Ireland on June 26 and 28 as the wicketkeeper-batter will link up with the Test specialist who has been training for the one-off Test in Birmingham from July 1.



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