Pant can be a massive player once he starts getting runs, says Rathour

Batting coach Vikram Rathour backed the struggling Rishabh Pant and said the wicketkeeper-batsman can be the X-factor in this Indian team.

Rishabh Pant and batting coach Vikram Rathour during a training session.   -  K. Murali Kumar

After beating West Indies in the final T20I in Mumbai, India skipper Virat Kohli said that the best aspect of the win was that the team finally managed to win a game by batting first.

India has been one of the best chasing sides in world cricket. However, the team has sometimes struggled to put big scores on the board when batting first. During the second T20I against West Indies, India managed to post just 170 runs as West Indies romped home with eight wickets in hand.

However, in the final T20I, batting first, the host posted 240/3 and then went on to restrict West Indies to 173/8 to win the series.

Ahead of the first ODI at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium here, batting coach Vikram Rathour hopes that the team continues to post big scores and said batting first requires a different kind of 'fearlessness.'

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"We are the number one team in the world while chasing and that was one box we ticked off. Batting first requires a different kind of fearlessness. While chasing we know our targets and plan accordingly. Batting first is the one area that we need to look into," Rathour said. 

"The way we batted in the last game (T20I in Mumbai) was a big tick in the box. So looking forward to maintaining that and whenever the opportunity comes we will be looking to bat first and of course put scores on the board."

India's top-order has been constantly getting runs but the middle-order still largely remains untested. However, Rathour believes there is enough batting depth and the right set of players to get the job done. 

"That's a difficult problem to address if the top-order is doing well you can't do anything but as far as the middle-order is concerned I think we have got really good players and it shouldn't be an issue. I believe we have the middle-order and enough batting depth throughout the innings with a lot of intent to put big scores," he said.

Karnataka boys doing well  

The architect of the win was opener K.L. Rahul who smashed a 56-ball 91 and won the man-of-the-match award. Rahul is all set to open along with Rohit Sharma and Rathour said that a tweak in technique helped Rahul overcome his slide.

"KL Rahul has always been a very good player. He went through a lean phase like every cricketer goes through. He worked really hard, made couple of technical changes and the results are there. There is no doubt he has always been a good player," Rathour said.

When asked if Rahul can don the wicket-keeping gloves also, the batting coach said, "Of course that's an option but the team management has to see how it goes."

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Another Karnataka batsman, Mayank Agarwal, who made a terrific Test debut is in the squad. And the batting coach is pleased with Mayank's rise.

"He has done so well in domestic cricket for many many years. Got into the Test team and did really well. He averages more than 50 in List A cricket and he has got a good Vijay Hazare as well. Looking at the overall picture he has done well in this (limited overs) as well and we are all happy to see him in this form." 

When asked if the Karnataka batsman could get an opportunity in this series. "Let's see if he gets an opportunity or not but whenever he gets we hope he does well," Rathour said.

Pant got ability

When asked about Rishabh Pant, who has been in poor form both with the bat and behind the stumps. And the batting coach, just like skipper Kohli and his deputy Rohit continued to back the young wicket-keeper batsman.

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"The reason why we keep discussing about Pant because he has immense ability and we all believe that he can be the X-factor in this Indian team. He is backed by the selectors as well as the team management because all of us believe that he is a good player. He is working hard on his game and his fitness. Once he starts coming good he can be a match-winner. He is being given the opportunity because he has done well in this format. Once he starts getting runs he can be a massive player for Team India," Rathour explained.

When asked if a break would help the struggling Pant to bounce back, Rathore said, "I don't think the time has arrived yet where he needs a break. He is looking good at the nets and we just hope he does well. He played reasonably well in the T20 series and even in the last game, he was asked to do a job and he did that and that's what the team looks for."