Not long ago, Rishabh Pant was seen as the rising new star of Indian cricket. Many declared him to be the successor to Mahendra Singh Dhoni. But, in the last few months, the wicketkeeper from Delhi has been brought down to Earth in a big way.
After scoring Test hundreds in England and Australia, Pant's form hasn't been as good as expected. In ODI cricket, where the expectations were greatest from him, he has fared most poorly. In Tests also, his recent returns have not justified the faith of so many people.
When the Indian team decided to drop him from the Test side and bring in veteran Wriddhiman Saha into the playing XI, it was a big setback for the 22-year old. But the situation has got even more grim for him as the team management has decided to release him from the Test squad altogether, to allow him to play the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, and bring KS Bharat as the back-up keeper.
Now, Bharat's name was in contention as the original back-up for Saha for the ongoing series against Bangladesh also. In fact, chief selector MSK Prasad is on record having said that the Andhra Pradesh keeper-batsman had come close to being picked.
To be fair, Pant isn't the only man to be released from the Indian squad. Shubman Gill has also been asked to go and play domestic cricket. But still, Pant's removal does suggest a message. Not only has the Delhi lad been failing to register good scores in both the Test and ODI formats regularly, his keeping too has been shoddy.
So, what does this suggest about the future of Pant? Well, the signs aren't good. The Indian domestic scene is, at the moment, producing many exciting young keeper-batsmen. Bharat is only one of them. Sanju Samson is another name that has garnered a lot of attention.
Luckily for Pant, his present challenge is in a format which seems to suit him most – T20. His success in the Indian Premier League (IPL) is a big proof of that. But Bharat's entry into the scene would put the left-hander on his guard. Having earned great success at the domestic level, the Andhra keeper is certainly deserving of a chance.
Luckily for Pant, he is in the team for both the ODI and T20I series against the West Indies team that begins soon. So, he does have a great opportunity to prove himself. If he doesn't take it, then, the likes of Bharat and Samson are bound to be given their chances at the international level.