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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 22 October 2019

India's new batting coach urges Risbah Pant to lose his reckless streak

Ahead of second T20 international against South Africa, Rathour tells the heir to Dhoni's throne that he needs more discipline in his batting
India's new batting coach, Vikram Rathour, has described Rishabh Pant as a 'phenomenal player' who needs to straddle the fine line between 'fearless' and 'careless'. Reuters

India's new batting coach Vikram Rathour has joined Ravi Shastri in demanding more discipline from exciting batsman-wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant.

Pant's six-hitting ability makes him a limited-overs asset, but head coach Shastri said in a recent interview the 21-year-old's penchant for throwing away his wicket has occasionally let the team down.

The Delhi player is perceived as MS Dhoni's natural successor in limited-overs cricket when the former captain eventually hangs up his gloves, but Rathour insisted Pant must improve his shot selection.

With next year's Twenty20 World Cup in mind, Rathour extended the message to all young members of the side that fearless cricket did not mean reckless cricket.

"Rishabh is a phenomenal player, no doubt about that," Rathour, the former India opener, said in Mohali ahead of the second Twenty20 International against South Africa on Wednesday.

"He needs to sort out his gameplan a little more. He needs to bring in a little bit of discipline to his cricket.

"Of course, we want him to play all his shots. He needs to be fearless because that is what makes him special. He is an impact player but at the same time he cannot afford to be careless.

"All the young players should understand that there is a fine line between fearless and careless cricket.

"What the team management is asking from them is fearless cricket – having clear gameplans and playing with intent, backing your strengths.

"At the same time, you cannot be careless. I'm sure they are smart enough to understand that."

India will also play three Tests against South Africa next month, when limited-overs stalwart Rohit Sharma may reinvent himself as a test opener.

Rohit smashed a record five centuries at this year's 50-overs World Cup, but the white-ball stalwart has managed only 27 sporadic test appearances.

Rathour said 32-year-old Rohit has the game to succeed across formats, which would be a massive boost for the side.

"He has done so well as an opener in white ball cricket, so I don’t see any reason why he can’t do well in red ball cricket as well, provided we provide him enough opportunities," Rathour said.

"If he comes good, it will be a huge asset for the team. Somebody of his experience, the kind of cricket he plays – if he plays at the top of the order, it will be a huge thing."

Virat Kohli's side have switched their focus to T20s since their failure at the 50-over World Cup this year where they lost to New Zealand in the semi-finals.

The opening T20 of the three-match series against South Africa in Dharamsala on Sunday was abandoned because of rain without a ball being bowled.

"In the past T20 was not taken seriously. Now since you are preparing for the World Cup all these games are going to be extremely important," said Rathour. "And I think the next 20-21 games we will be playing will be our preparation for the World Cup."

The T20 World Cup is being held next year in Australia, between October and November.

Updated: September 17, 2019 05:16 PM