Rishabh Pant: There's nothing called natural game

Rishabh Pant's maiden half century may have gone in vain, but it was a welcome return to form for the under-pressure southpaw.

Rishabh Pant efforts may not have helped India win the game, but the youngster is determined to look at the positives.   -  B. JOTHI RAMALINGAM

After a string of poor outings with the bat, all eyes were on Rishabh Pant ahead of the first ODI against the West Indies in Chennai. Not oblivious to the pressure, the young wicket-keeper batsman maintained that every innings he plays for the country is important and that putting in the hard yards to become better as a player was a continuous process for him.

Come match day and Pant delivered. He registered his highest score against the West Indies with a 69-ball 71. However, his maiden ODI fifty went in vain as the Windies beat India by eight wickets at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium to take a 1-0 lead in three-match series.

"Personally if I play for India, every innings is important for me. As a youngster, I just want to learn and improve," Pant said at the post match media interaction. 

READ :  Hetmyer, Hope centuries give West Indies 1-0 lead

On a slow track, India lost three early wickets. The southpaw along with Shreyas Iyer then came to the side's rescue, forging a 114-run stand for the fourth wicket to help India post 287 for the loss of eight wcickets.

"When Shreyas and I were batting, our aim was to build a partnership and stay until the 40th, because in a 50-over game, we can capitalise at the end," he said.

Both Iyer and Pant had to curb their natural game and focus on strike rotation before opening up. When asked how difficult was it to pace the innings, Pant said, "There's nothing called a natural game and we need to play as per the demands of the team. Good players are those who play as per the demands of the team and situations." 

The wicket-keeper batsman has drawn sharp criticism for his poor form. On how he copes with the burden of expectations Pant said, "As an individual and a player I just want to focus on the process. People will say good and bad things but I just want to focus on my game. The team management has asked me to just calm myself down and improve myself in every factor."

While the side evidently missed the services of a recovering Jasprit Bumrah, Pant defended those in the current squad. "Bumrah is a top bowler and has experience but is out because of an injury. However, the bowlers who are here are also good. The younger bowlers are still learning," he said.   

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Shimron Hetmyer and Shai Hope took West Indies through with a 218-run stand in Chennai on Sunday.   -  AP

Always nice to chase a target rather than setting one: Hetmyer

Adjudged 'player of the match' for a brilliant 139-run innings, Shimron Hetmyer was happy with his knock.

"This is will be the best one as this is my highest score. It's always a nice feeling to chase down target than setting one," Hetmyer said.

Speaking about the conditions in Chennai, the 22-year-old said, "For me, there wasn't much slowness and there is always a dew factor in India. The ball did stop probably a little bit when the seamers were bowling.

Hetmyer along with another centurion Shai Hope forged a match-winning 218-run stand to set up the win. Commenting on their partnership, Hetmyer said, "We know each other well and most of the time I am the aggressor and for us, it's nice batting together."