'He remains an integral part of our batting line-up' - Rahul Dravid backs under-fire Rishabh Pant

Rishabh Pant's performances in the home series against South Africa was uimpressive.

Rishabh Pant
Rishabh Pant. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

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Rishabh Pant has been facing a lot of criticism for his performances in the recently-concluded five-match T20I series against South Africa at home. Pant had to step in as a stand-in skipper after KL Rahul was ruled out of the entire series with a groin injury. India managed to level the series 2-2 after losing the first two matches as the last fixture was washed out due to heavy rain in Bengaluru.

Pant has so far scored 741 runs in 48 T20I matches at an average of 23.15 and a strike rate of 123.91. Fans and cricket experts are already questioning Pant’s numbers in the white-ball format after considerable international matches. But Pant has received the backing from the Indian head coach Rahul Dravid, who feels that the player is a very big part of Indian cricket going forwards.

“He remains an integral part of our batting line-up. We know what he does with the power he has. The fact that he is a left-hander is very important to us as well in the middle overs. And he has played some good knocks. Of course, personally, he would have liked to have scored a few more runs but it’s not that concerning. For us, he is certainly a very big part of our plans going ahead in the next few months.” Dravid told the reporters after the last match.

I thought Rishabh Pant had a pretty good IPL: Rahul Dravid

The 24-year-old wicketkeeper batter scored only 58 runs in five innings at an average of 14.50 and a strike rate of 105.45 against South Africa. Pant had a decent Indian Premier League 2022 season with Delhi Capitals where he scored 340 runs in 14 matches but impressed many with his 151.78 strike rate. Dravid also said that the management hopes for similar numbers from Pant in the international games as well.

“When you’re asking people to play a slightly more attacking brand of cricket in the middle overs and to take the game on a little bit more, sometimes it’s hard to judge based on two or three games. I thought he had a pretty good IPL. He might not have looked good on the averages, but his strike rate was really good. He looked to move that up a little bit – to where he was probably three years ago. We’re going to hope that we can get those kinds of numbers from him at the international level as well. In that process, he might go wrong in a few games.” Dravid said.