June 6, 2023

At just 21 years of age, Rishabh Pant has fast begun shedding the word ‘next’ from the phrase ‘next big thing’. Already he is India’s primary wicket-keeper in Test cricket and he continues to promise the world in the shorter formats. But the real challenge in making that promise a reality begins now, in MS Dhoni’s absence, after Pant was named India’s sole wicket-keeper in the ODI and T20I squads for the upcoming tour of the West Indies. In an interview with HT, Pant opened up on a wide range of subjects, including ‘replacing’ Dhoni and having to parachute in to the Indian team at the World Cup.

I know those are big shoes to fill, but if I start thinking about it there will be a problem. Right now, I am not thinking about what people say. I am just focusing on what I have to do. I just want to do well for my country. That’s the only thing I am focusing on. I take the challenge positively. Now I have to see what I can learn, and what I can do to improve.

n your young career, you have played almost all your ODI matches with Dhoni. What part of his game have you taken inspiration from?

The way he reads the game, that is the first thing. Then, he is always very calm in pressure situations. There are many things to learn from him. And off the field he is always very helpful too. I look to always keep learning from the seniors.

Generally, international players tend to cement their place in limited-overs squads before making the Test squad. You have taken the reverse route. Did it help to have Test experience before ODI experience?

I don’t think about (the differences in) formats too much. Yes, maybe it did help that I played Test cricket first. I got good experience from playing Test cricket. People used to say that Test cricket is the most difficult. So I got to learn a lot, how to build the innings, playing down the order and how to bat with the tail.

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