ENG vs IND: India will continue to back Rishabh Pant - Kohli

Rishabh Pant may have scored just 87 runs in three Tests against England in the ongoing Test series, but captain Virat Kohli is firmly behind India's wicketkeeper-batsman.

Rishabh Pant walks back after being dismissed, on Day Four of the third Test against England at Headingley. - AP

Rishabh Pant has had a quiet series so far. Not just when it comes to his banter from behind the stumps but more importantly, with his willow-wielding. However, thanks to the focus being on inconsistent rewards by the big three at Nos. 3, 4, and 5, Pant’s lack of runs has gone relatively unnoticed.

However, as was the case during the third Test in Leeds, more than lack of runs, it is Pant’s inability to tackle England pacers’ accuracy with the ball that’s resulted in meagre rewards. Otherwise, for a batsman like Pant, with his uncanny knack of scoring runs in the most unconventional fashion, a tally of 87 runs at 17.40 in the first three Tests in England is far from being acceptable.

With the prodigious talent that Pant possesses, the batsman-wicketkeeper has often been given long rope by the team management. Even after his meagre rewards - something that’s left Ravindra Jadeja with little to do at No. 7 along with a tail that’s longer than the top-order - captain Virat Kohli firmly stood by Pant.

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“Similar conversations were being initiated about [Cheteshwar] Pujara as well which seem to have disappeared after yesterday (Friday). So we want to give, as I said in the past, Rishabh all the space to play his game and understand situations and take responsibility like is expected of everyone else in the batting order,” Kohli said after India’s defeat by an innings and 76 runs with five sessions remaining at Headlingley.

“You can’t judge people all the time on numbers and whether they are succeeding or failing. That's not how you make a team. There’s still time in the series. After two more Tests, we can look back and analyse and say these were the areas that were not quite right. At this moment, it’s not the time.”

While Pant was at his best in every sense during England’s tour to India earlier in the year, reviving himself as a wicketkeeper and continuing his sledging games from Australia, with veteran Wriddhiman Saha waiting in the wings for a chance, it will be interesting to see if Pant reposes the faith shown in him later this week at the Oval.

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