Nayan Mongia's advice to Pant: 'Start keeping more at the nets'

The former Indian wicketkeeper, Nayan Mongia, understands what a player goes through in torrid times, and suggests Pant should take the net sessions seriously.

While Pant has struggled behind the stumps, his runs have also dried up. In the last five T20Is, Pant could only score 56 runs.   -  RAJEEV BHATT

It has been a bumpy ride for Rishabh Pant. The youngster, who broke into the international scene with much promise, now finds himself in a spot.

With former cricketers slamming him for his poor performances -- both with the bat and behind the stumps -- in the T20Is against South Africa and Bangladesh, the 22-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman is up for a stiff challenge.

And former India wicketkeeper, Nayan Mongia, has a suggestion for Pant -- ‘start keeping more at the nets’. Having spent more than a decade in international cricket, Mongia understands what a player goes through in torrid times, and suggests Pant should take the net sessions seriously.

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Keeping at the nets

“He (Pant) needs to keep more in the nets. That’s the most important thing for a keeper. Nowadays, you don’t get enough space for a keeper in the nets, but there should be five or six batsmen at the nets and he should stand behind the stumps as if he is playing a match,” Mongia told Sportstar.

These days, the concept of a nets session has also changed. Unlike yesteryear, now the batsmen sweat it out in an enclosure and there is no scope for a wicketkeeper to stand behind the stumps.

“But whatever limited time you get at the nets, you need to perfect your skills. If you take a good catch or effect a stumping at the nets session, that will boost the confidence. He needs to ensure that he doesn’t fumble at the nets,” Mongia said.

Recalling his playing days, Mongia said in those days, spending time with batsmen during the practice session would eventually boost the confidence of a stumper.

“I used to practice as if I was playing in a match. I used to take hundreds of catches and would stand behind the stumps when five or six batsmen would be at the nets.

"I made sure that not a single ball slipped out of my gloves. It was also important to concentrate and focus on the ball. The basics had to be right and if the basics are right, you can’t make mistakes,” the former cricketer said.

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Healthy copmpetition

While Pant has struggled behind the stumps, his runs have also dried up. In the last five T20Is, Pant could only score 56 runs. And Mongia believes that a balancing act will help the youngster improve his game.

“He has looked more like a batsman than a keeper, but he needs to focus on his keeping as well. If you keep well, you will gain confidence in your batting and if you are batting well, you will be confident to stand behind the stumps. So, that balance has to be there,” Mongia said.

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“There is a lot of competition and quite a few other keepers are also in the line, so he needs to grab opportunities. He is a young talent, and I am sure, with his potential, he will go far…”

The 49-year-old Mongia, who quit the game in 2004, will be in action again at the Road Safety World Series -- which begins in February, next year. And he is looking forward to the new innings. “When the Road Safety World Series management approached me and told me that it’s for a good cause, I was very excited to play. I will once again get an opportunity to show my skills and will get to meet so many old friends. It’s challenging but I look forward to it,” Mongia said.

With the tournament set to be played in Mumbai and Pune, the organisers, on Wednesday, also announced a partnership with the Rotary Club of Mumbai (Khar).