Rishabh Pant is one of the most entertaining Test batters in the world at the moment, but his T20 numbers leave much to be desired, and former India player Wasim Jaffer believes that the wicketkeeper is not a certainty in the Indian XI for the shortest format.
Pant has set the five-day format ablaze, scoring 1,920 runs at an average above 40 with a strike-rate over 70. He has played a number of impactful innings in his 30-match career, with his unbeaten 89 at the Gabba last year being named second in Wisden’s Test innings of 2021. Only Ben Stokes has hit more sixes in the format since Pant’s debut, but while he has set the stage ablaze in whites, he has been unable to carry on his fearless batting in the shortest format.
For India, Pant has scored 723 runs in 40 T20I innings at an average of 23.32 and a strike rate of 125.95. Since the start of 2021, the left-hander has batted in 15 innings and has had a strike rate of more than 140 only five times, and below 130 on seven occasions. Pant has been named India’s T20I skipper for the current series against South Africa following KL Rahul’s injury and Rohit Sharma’s absence but has not left a mark, with four successive knocks of less than 30. He struggled in the fourth match, especially, scoring 17 in 23 balls at a strike rate of 73.91.
Jaffer, speaking to ESPNCricinfo ahead of the fourth game, believes that the wicketkeeper is not a certainty in the XI once Rahul, who can also keep wicket, returns to the side. “You’ve got KL Rahul. Once KL Rahul comes back, he walks into the side – he’s a wicketkeeper as well,” he said. “If Dinesh Karthik is certain to play, then again, he’s also a wicketkeeper, so I’m not too sure – the way Rishabh Pant has played recently, I won’t call him a certainty.”
Pant has registered scores of less than 20 in 31 of his T20I innings, and Jaffer believes he has to score more consistently. The Delhi Capitals skipper also ended the 2022 IPL without a single fifty, which was the first season he went without reaching the landmark.
“I think he still needs to score runs and score pretty consistently. He hasn’t done that in the IPL, he hasn’t done that in many T20 Internationals, and I’ve said that many times: the way he’s played in Test cricket, the way he’s played in quite a few one-day innings as well, he hasn’t done that in T20 internationals, so I won’t say that Rishabh Pant is a certainty for me going forward.”