Rishabh Pant
Rishabh Pant

India team management has been currently facing many questions regarding MS Dhoni’s unavailability in the squad. On the other hand, the MSK Prasad led committee backed youngster Rishabh Pant and he has become a regular member in the team across formats. But Pant has also been going through some criticisms as well as everyone started comparing him with Dhoni. However, Rishabh Pant has responded to criticism well by saying that he has earned the spot in the team and no one has gifted it to him on a platter.

In a recent interview with Bombay Times, Pant said he is learning from him and it’s not possible for him to be in the same category of Dhoni right now. As he considers Dhoni as his mentor. He even has been learning how to remain calm in pressure situations.

“At 21, if I start thinking that I have to fill Dhoni’s shoes, it will get very difficult for me. I just try to keep it simple. I want to play the game to the best of my ability and learn from everyone around me, especially my seniors,” Pant said.

Since his debut in 2017, Pant has become the first choice wicketkeeper in the longer format of the game, having scored centuries in England and Australia. However, he failed to do well in the limited-overs.

MS Dhoni
MS Dhoni

“It’s good for a player to get an early break. Besides, I am not getting anything for free. I have worked hard and earned my place in the Indian cricket team. Nobody has gifted that to me. Koi nahi bolta ke, Bhai team mein aaja’. Aisa nahi hota hai. If you don’t perform well, you won’t be selected. It’s as simple as that. Everyone has to justify their spot in the team,” said the wicketkeeper-batsman.

Rishabh Pant also said that he didn’t expect to be in the World Cup side ‘as a wild-card entry’ after initially not being included in the 15-member squad.

“I didn’t expect to make it to the WC as a wild-card entry. I had hoped that I would make it to the final 15. I had worked for it. It was a dream come true to play the WC, but no, I never thought the opportunity would come like this. I was happy. I remember I was in my hometown Roorkee when I got a call from the BCCI saying, Just be ready. You may have to come to the UK, so be in Delhi’. I told them that I am in Delhi already (smiles!). I had an intuition that I will get that call,” said Pant.

Apart from the game, he was in news after getting involved in friendly banter with Australian Test captain Tim Paine who referred to him as a ‘babysitter’. However, Pant recalled the funny story behind the incident. The picture, however, went viral and he shared he doesn’t take the on-field things to home.

“I was laughing at it. I have no clue how he thought of calling me that. It was fun. When I met his family, his mother wanted a photo with me. His wife was standing around with their two kids. She asked me if she could also take a picture with me. I actually held one of the kids for the photograph, saying I can be their babysitter. She posted it on Instagram and it went viral. It was friendly banter. Also, whatever happens on the field stays on the field. I don’t take it home or hold grudges,” he added.

However, it will be interesting to see what the selectors have been thinking about MS Dhoni’s future in international cricket.