Yuvraj Singh, in an Instagram chat with KP, stated that it was the inexperience of Pant that got the better of him in the semi-final against Kiwis and blamed the management for drafting in a rookie. After initially steadying the ship, Pant perished after a mistimed slog-sweep found the fielder.
After being initially left out of the World Cup squad, young Rishabh Pant was drafted into the Indian side as a replacement for an injured Shikhar Dhawan and the youngster kick-started his World Cup campaign in fine fashion, scoring a 32 and 48 in his first two games. However, Pant’s litmus test arrived in the semi-final against the Kiwis, with him having to arrest a collapse after the side was flabbergastingly reduced to 5-3. He initially did a fine job, stitching a 49-run partnership with Hardik Pandya, but batting on 32, he had a moment to forget, as a mistimed slog meant that he perished in the ugliest way imaginable.
The youngster has come under enormous criticism for his choice of shot on that particular day, but former Indian cricketer Yuvraj Singh has now come to Pant’s rescue. According to Yuvraj, it’s the management - who drafted Pant into the WC squad despite him only having played 4 ODIs - who are to be blamed, for their lack of preparedness, for putting a novice cricketer in the line of fire in a crunch game.
"He (speaking of Pant in particular) was playing the fifth ODI of his career (during the New Zealand tie). But the point is bad thinking from the coaching staff and team management to bring in a guy who has played 5, or 7, ODIs. Nothing against Rishabh Pant. Nothing against Vijay Shankar," Yuvraj told Kevin Pietersen in an Instagram chat.
"But you need experience. What happens when Rohit and Virat get out? If he would have played 40 or 45 ODIs, he would have taken a single and gone the other side (on Pant's poor shot selection during a crunch moment of the tie). We didn't plan it really well.”
When KP pointed about Pant’s prowess and IPL experience - that of playing in front of big crowds - to Yuvraj, the veteran Indian rebutted by saying that the two tournaments and formats cannot be compared, as the mindset of the batsman differs drastically in each format. Yuvraj labelled Pant’s shot ‘bad’ and stated that had the IPL been a 50-over tournament, Pant would have played more sensibly and not gone for a slog.
"There is experience of playing in front of big crowds. But when you're playing IPL, you're playing only for 20 overs - you have authority to go big at any time. But when you're playing a 50-over game, you don't have authority to hit it, when you can.
“There are times when the ball is in the slot but you say to yourself that you're going to take a single. So the mindset differs. If the IPL was a 50-over tournament for the last 10 years and if he (Pant) would have played 3 IPLs and had 100 matches of experience under his belt, trust me he would have taken a single. Honestly, the guy just played a bad shot."
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