Former India cricketer Mohammad Kaif has revealed that Rishabh Pant, who in general is an emotional person, was quite low after 2019 World Cup snub. The young wicketkeeper-batsman was, however, later called in as cover during the World Cup for injured Indian opener Shikhar Dhawan.
Pant, who made his ODI debut in October 2018, had played only five ODIs ahead of the 2015 World Cup. Besides the shocker surrounding Ambati Rayudu’s non-selection, as the BCCI went ahead with Vijay Shankar, even Pant was left out of the squad travelling to England.
According to Delhi Capitals assistant coach Mohammad Kaif, the 22-year-old looked dejected after initially being overlooked for the World Cup. Kaif added that it was his Delhi Capitals mates who convinced him that it was just the beginning of his career. The former India cricketer also backed Pant as an asset, if used correctly by Team India.
“His name was not there, and he felt quite low. He is quite an emotional person. He started feeling bad immediately afterwards that he was not selected. We picked up on those things. So, we spoke to him a lot. We told him - ‘you are quite young, at the age of 20-21, a player just starts his career. You have already made a name for yourself. You have already won the matches for your team,” Kaif revealed on Aakash Chopra's Youtube chat show ‘Aakash Vani’.
Eventually, the wicketkeeper-batsman did get the call as a cover for Dhawan who had suffered a thumb injury in the league-stage game against Australia on June 9 which had ruled him out for the remainder of the tournament. Pant played four World Cup games, including the semifinal against New Zealand, before India’s exit from the mega-event.
“None of us ever had any doubts that he will not be a big player, or he will not perform. We have always maintained that ‘you are a good player, you will get your chance. Just keep doing what you are doing, keep winning matches like you have been doing every year’. We spoke to him on his mental thoughts. But he is a class player, there is no doubt on this. You don’t get such players. If he is used correctly, then he can be an asset. He is quite young as well, when he plays for two-three years more, he will become an even better player,” added Kaif.