Champion Australia head coach thinks Pant could be an Adam Gilchrist in the making
Rishabh Pant, known for his explosive and innovative batting, has already proved his match-winning abilities for India, perhaps more significantly in Test cricket. While he has had his moments in ODIs and T20Is, the left-hander is yet to hit consistency.
Pant’s aggressive outlook to batting and the approach has prompted comparisons to former Australia great Adam Gilchrist in the past, with Gilchrist himself labelling him “as the most exciting cricketer in the world” earlier this year.
Can Pant be served better as an opener in white-ball cricket, as had Gilchrist for Australia in ODIs? Gilchrist formed a fine pairing at the top with Mark Waugh and later Matthew Hayden, and had starred in Australia’s three straight World Cup wins - in 1999, 2003 and 2007 - including a blistering 149 in the 2007 final against Sri Lanka.
Pant has opened for India thrice in T20Is and once in ODIs till date, including in the third T20I vs South Africa in Indore on Tuesday, wherein he scored 27 off 14 with three fours and a six.
John Buchanan, the former Australia World Cup winning coach, backed Pant to match Gilchrist’s heroics at the top.
“Quite possibly,” Buchanan told Hindustan Times.
“First of all, does he (Pant) want to do it (play as an opener)? If he wants to, and there's a position for it, he could be a very logical choice to open the batting. He certainly takes on the game from the word go. If he continues to play like this in T20 cricket, and continues to succeed, it would really give a wonderful platform for the rest of the innings.”
Pant had opened for India at the U19 Cricket World Cup 2016 in Bangladesh, and had aggregated 267 runs at 44.50 with two fifties and a hundred in India’s runners-up finish.
During the 2019 World Cup in England, Virender Sehwag was asked if Pant could be a possible opener for India in future.
“He will open for sure, but after five years,” Sehwag had told icc-cricket.com, citing that Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan are to stay for long.
“We don’t play limited-overs to score 50 or 100 but to score at a brisk pace, no matter the situation or the opposition,” Sehwag had reiterated during a conversation with Sports 18 earlier this year. “At no. 4 or 5, he (Pant) will find himself in situations that demand greater responsibility, but if he opens, he will be far more successful.”