After meagre returns of 23 and 7 in the recently concluded Nidahas T20 Tri-series in Sri Lanka, Rishabh Pant, like any other seasoned cricketer, knows that the only way to overcome failure is to work hard on the weaknesses.
On Friday, at the Ferozeshah Kotla during Delhi Daredevils' practice session, Pant’s demeanour gave out positive signs, suggesting that he has moved on from Sri Lanka and is working hard in order to have a great IPL.
“See it is part and parcel of the game. At times you do really well and at others, maybe just good. I am just working hard on my game and trying to perform the way I did last year," said the 20-year-old Pant.
The level at which Pant is playing, one wonders what changes could help him get back to scoring ways.
Against Sri Lanka in the first match, Pant displayed nearly his entire range but his 23-ball 23 towards the end of the innings couldn’t get India the score they wanted. Next game, he was promoted to No.3 but a rash drive ended his innings.
The problem with him is not technique or a lack of drive, it is the inability to win mental battles.
Having sat out the rest of the tournament, Pant made sure he gathered Ravi Shastri’s pearls of wisdom. He might not like to share the details but has already started working on his mental conditioning. “I had a great interaction with Ravi Shastri and the team atmosphere was also very good. I learnt a lot from my failures. I will try and come back stronger. Also, I have worked on my skill and fitness, and I have also spoken to my coach Tarak Sinha at length. I am trying to implement all that in my game,” said a confident Pant.
Rahul Dravid has had a huge influence on the Delhi lad in his formative years, starting from his U-19 days to India A to the Daredevils. This year, he has already had a taste of Shastri’s style of coaching and is currently following Ricky Ponting’s instructions. When asked how different it is for him to adjust under different coaches, Pant said, “I have had a good experience of Ponting. For me, it is important to get good vibes from the person and when we see him, you get positive vibes and it will work for the team. Coaches do help with your mindset but at the end of the day players have to play according to what suits them and how they give their 100 percent.”
Pant has a point here. Coaches, especially at this level, work on the mindset and share their experiences, thus get the best out of a player. And with skipper Gautam Gambhir at the helm this season, Pant knows that he will be in demand and the only way to shine is to stay in a good space mentally. It will interesting to see if Pant can really believe in himself and churn out some solid knocks for Delhi.
"All teams play to win the trophy and Gautam Gambhir is one captain who plays to win. Even our coach Ricky Ponting has the same frame of mind. I am sure things could change for the better,” he said.
Last year wasn’t too fruitful for Pant and he could be under pressure to prove his worth. Producing good knocks to get back in form could be on one’s wishlist, but Pant says team is the priority for him and will ensure his scores contribute to the team’s success. “At all levels, be it India, India A or Ranji Trophy, the pressure to perform is always there but I alwyas think about how to improve my game and how I can help my team, I focus on that,” Pant said.