Rishabh Pant: 'I expect to play for India for 10 or 15 years'

Rishabh Pant is focused on a good work ethic that will ensure he has a long career.

Rishabh Pant lofts the ball over mid-off for a six, his bat swing finishing over his right shoulder in trademark style.   -  AP

Rishabh Pant was one of the success stories from India's triumphant Test series against Australia in December-January, as the dependable wicketkeeper and swashbuckling left-hander made significant contributions with the bat and behind the stumps.

The 21-year-old, who is looking forward to delivering the first IPL trophy for the Delhi Capitals this upcoming season, provided an insight into his thought process in a freewheeling chat on Friday.

Does he see a bright future for himself, considering the remarkable success in Australia, when he scored the second highest total of runs behind Cheteshwar Pujara and was exemplary as a wicket-keeper, a contribution that included a world record 11 catches in the Test at Adelaide.

"I am focused on the present. Am not thinking much about the future right now. As a youngster, I want to keep improving every day. That is what I am looking forward to achieve. Every day when I get on to the field, I am learning from everyone in the team," said Pant, with
disarming simplicity.

Did he expect to be this good in Australia?

"I always expect big things from myself. The main thing that I normally do is to focus on the process. That is what is helping me in every situation," he revealed.

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Who cultivated this precious habit, when the most talented of youngsters are weighed down by the anxiety to perform, burden of expectations or the fear of failure.

"My coach Tarak Sinha has always told me to focus on the process, rather than the results," said Pant about the mantra from his Dronacharya guru.

There is tremendous competition for every spot in the current Indian team and that has elevated the overall standard of the side.

What does he do to stay ahead in the pecking order?

"I do expect to play for India for the next 10 or 15 years. But, as I said, I just focus on the process, fitness and work ethics, to ensure that I stay in the race for a long period of time. The key is performing well for the team. Personal achievements are good, but it is more important if you can see how well you can contribute to the team to make it better," he observed.

From hitting a 30-ball century in a T20 game to hitting triple century in a first class match, to hitting an unbeaten 159 in a Test match against Australia, Pant is quite versatile. He revels in every format.

"My coach has always maintained that good basics are important, irrespective of you playing a T20, one-day or Test match. You need to have strong basics. Then, you play according to the situation. In a T20 game, you have to be positive. If you are playing one-day, you can give yourself a little more time. If you are playing a Test, then you have enough time," he remarked.

He was categorical that one does not have to spoil one’s basics to succeed in T20.

"If you have good technique, you can do well in any format’’, he said.

For him, "the most interesting thing is to play for India. Any format is fine. I like every form of cricket."

There has been a strong influence from his Delhi team mate and India captain Virat Kohli on the young man.

"Virat is influencing cricketers all over the world. His work ethics, to be at the gym, even on an off-day. If he can do that as a legend, for me he is a legend, why can’t we do that," he queried.

What does Virat tell him?

"One thing he always says is that you don’t have to play 100 matches to gain experience. You can watch others play in two matches and learn from their experience. He is very friendly, loves to be happy," he said.

Wicketkeeping is very demanding, and then to come back to smash the bowlers all around, calls for some energy.


Rishabh Pant vows to make a winning contribution to Delhi Capitals this upcoming IPL season.   -  KAMESH SRINIVASAN


"Both things help each other. If you are keeping wickets for 90 or 100 overs, you know how the ball is coming off the pitch. You get more ideas than anybody else. That can benefit your batting. And if you are playing for a long time, you know how the pitch is behaving. If you
are playing for the country, there is ample energy inside you," Pant smiled.

The IPL season is ready to spring to life soon, how does Rishab Pant fancy the chances for his team Delhi Capitals.

"I am looking forward to making a winning contribution. This year, the Delhi team is a good combination of youngsters and experienced players. Youngsters have the energy, and experience is equally important. We have the right mix. This season, we believe that we are
going to win, for the fans and for our team. We can give them the trophy this year," Pant signed off.

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