Virat Kohli pleased with Rishabh Pant’s finishing job

Rishabh Pant (BCCI)

Rishabh Pant came good in the third T20I against West Indies, his unbeaten 65 off 42 helping India negotiate a potentially tricky chase to sweep the series. He top-scored for India and hit the match-winning six, prompting his captain Virat Kohli to say “we are looking at Rishabh Pant as the future”.

Kohli said all the youngster needed after two poor outings on the bounce was one innings to settle in and show the world what he could do. The message was for him to finish the game – there’s a lot of confidence that comes with hitting the winning runs and walking off the field with bat raised, and Pant needed to experience that, Kohli said.

“For the first two games, he was disappointed that he didn’t get any runs,” Kohli said. “He was playing really well, hitting the ball really well, but that’s how T20 cricket goes. Sometimes you don’t have the rub of the green. But today he made sure he applied himself and batted to his skills and backed himself to hit the big shots when required and really played with the tempo of the innings.

“He’s got a lot of skill and talent. [But] it’s about winning and finishing games like these and gaining confidence, which he wants to do as well. It’s about giving him a bit more space to ease himself into international cricket and not putting too much pressure because of the way he’s played in the IPL.

“At the international level, you need to tackle pressure differently and play yourself into the whole set-up. He has come a long way since he started. If he plays like this more regularly, we will see his potential shine for India.”

With the focus now shifting to the ODI series, starting on August 8 at the same venue – Providence Stadium – Kohli said he was glad the team got a full game despite the early rain, and got the chance to have a proper hit. All the while, with an eye on the bigger picture: the priority is to make sure India play consistent cricket, with young players like Pant and Rahul Chahar – the debutant legspinnings – helping strengthen the team’s resources.

“I think the priority is to keep Indian cricket at the top, go out there and win games and find ways to win games for your team,” Kohli said. “That’s the reason we have been one of the top teams in the world for a while now.”

The players are going to take the day off on Wednesday to rest and recover ahead of the 50-over games, Kohli said, as the humidity and the high temperatures would be tricky to deal with over a whole day.

And when the ODI action begins, the teams would know that the weather – the forecast isn’t ideal for cricket – might not deny them 100 overs of action, based on the evidence on Tuesday. The drainage at Providence is excellent: a downpour earlier in the morning had resulted in a one-hour delay to the start, and at one point it was coming down so hard that there were concerns over whether a single ball would be bowled. But, as Kohli said, one could hardly tell it had rained as much as it had. (ESPNCricinfo)