From the blue-eyed boy of Indian cricket, Rishabh Pant is turning into an enigma. The young wicket-keeper batsman, who scored hundreds in England and Australia, has been failing in the last few months causing exasperation and frustration among his admirers and supporters.
But a prominent voice has spoken out in favour of the Delhi-based keeper-batsman. Yuvraj Singh has lashed out at Indian team management, in what could be an indirect castigation of captain Virat Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri, for speaking negatively about him in the media.
"Someone needs to mentor Rishabh according to his character. Suppressing Rishabh won't get the best out of him. He has a lot of potential, the captain and the coach need to mentor him. Team needs to stop making statements about Rishabh in the media," the former Indian cricketer said to NDTV in an interview.
He added that a little help could bring out the best from the Delhi Capitals' wicketkeeper. "Rishabh Pant has the best match-winning ability. Mental aspect of the players needs to be addressed."
It can be recalled that the coach of the Indian team, Shastri, had admitted in an interview that Pant's shot-making has let the team down on some occasions. There have been other reports floating in the media about the selectors already looking at replacements for Pant.
On the other hand, Kohli hasn't yet said anything negative in the media about his young teammate. In fact, he even supported Pant at one point of time by stating that even he used to make the kind of mistakes Pant has been guilty of in his younger days. But he too, probably, hasn't showed the kind of support that others want him to.
To make things worse for the 21-year old, even the batting coach of the team Vikram Rathour entered the debate and said a few unflattering things about him.
"We want him to play all his shots. That is what makes him special, he is an impact player but at the same time you can't be careless. All the young players need to understand that there is a fine line between fearless cricket and careless cricket... As far as Rishabh is concerned, he is a phenomenal player, he just needs to sort out his gameplan, needs to bring in a little bit of discipline in his cricket," Rathour had said to the media during India's T20 series against South Africa.
On the other hand, Shastri was even more blunt in criticism of Pant. "When you see a shot like the one in Trinidad, off the first ball (you feel disappointed)... He tries to repeat it a couple of times and gets out, he will be told. There will be a rap on the knuckles there, talent or no talent, because you are letting the team down, forget letting yourself down," Shastri said in an interview to Star Sports a few days ago.
Earlier, former India opener Gautam Gambhir had also spoken out against the team management for saying critical things about Pant in the media. Only time will tell whether Gambhir and Yuvraj's advice is accepted.