India wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant has been on the receiving end of criticism due to his poor form with the bat and behind the stumps. With Sanju Samson knocking on the selector’s doors after spectacular performance in domestic cricket last year, the pressure is on Pant to cement his place in the team. The left-handed batsman showcased signs of form in the limited-overs series against West Indies, when he smashed 71 runs in 69 balls in the first ODI, and then followed it up with a 16-ball 39 in the 2nd ODI. But he failed to carry the form in the third ODI, in which he was dismissed for a duck.
Despite recent struggles, the BCCI President and former India captain Sourav Ganguly backed Pant and described the hard-hitting batsman as a special talent. Speaking in an interview to Times of India, the former cricketer said: “These are selection matters which are dealt by selectors. But Rishabh (Pant) is a special talent and we saw how he played well in the two matches he played against West Indies.”
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The 47-year-old added that decision to pick or drop Pant lies in the hand of the selectors. “His record in Test cricket has been good but the end decision would be left to the selectors,” he said.
Meanwhile, India will play Sri Lanka in the 2nd T20I on Tuesday, and Pant is expected to feature in the playing XI. He was a part of the team in the 1st T20I, but did not get a chance to redeem himself with the match getting abandoned due to wet pitch without a ball being bowled.
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India are entering the contest after consecutive T20I series wins over Bangladesh and West Indies, respectively. The Kohli-led side will be hoping to deliver a similar performance against Sri Lanka, since it is a familiar opposition. India already hold a successful record in T20Is against Sri Lanka, and they will be eager to preserve the stat.
India (won: 5; drawn: 1) have never lost a bilateral T20I series against Sri Lanka and that is bound to set the alarm bells ringing in the opposition camp. They are also on a five-match winning run against Sri Lanka with the visitors’ last T20I victory coming way back in 2016 (Pune).
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