VVS Laxman: Pressure on Rishabh Pant to retain national spot

Laxman said Samson’s selection in the squad for the three T20 Internationals against the West Indies is a “strong message” for Pant to either perform or perish.

Rishabh Pant is under fire to perform after coming under criticism for reckless shot selection. PHOTO: K. Murali Kumar

Former India batsman VVS Laxman feels Rishabh Pant is fast running out of time to justify the faith invested in him by the team management, and might lose his place to Sanju Samson if he doesn’t regain his form soon.

Laxman said Samson’s selection in the squad for the three T20 Internationals against the West Indies is a “strong message” for Pant to either perform or perish.

“The team management and the selection committee have passed on a strong message that we got a backup in the form of Sanju Samson. Rishabh Pant has been given a lot of opportunities and I’m sure that they will be communicating and giving him that security within that group,” Laxman told ‘Star Sports’.

“But then ultimately the player has to justify the faith the team management, the selection committee has been showing in him,” he said.

Read: Pant should never draw comparison with Dhoni, says MSK Prasad

Race against time

“Unfortunately, Rishabh hasn’t been able to do that, but he has that X factor. I still feel that he is an exclusive batsman who can come and change the course of the match just by his ability to hit good balls out of the park.”

Not so long ago, Pant was India’s number one wicketkeeper-batsman in all three formats but has endured an erratic run of form for some time now.

With Wriddhiman Saha back in the team, Pant has now lost his place in the Test XI and his place in the limited-overs format has also been under the scanner.

“As a batsman - there’s no clarity of thought, there’s no doubt that he’s under pressure, because how many times have you seen Rishabh Pant when he is in full flow, play and he has a different mindset and technique against the spinners. I feel he will be under tremendous pressure to retain his place in the playing eleven,” Laxman said.

Read: 'Scared home teams will not give us seaming tracks'

Dhoni's future

The 45-year-old former batsman said Pant is still India’s first-choice wicketkeeper-batsman for next year’s T20 World Cup but veteran MS Dhoni is very much in the picture.

Dhoni has been on a sabbatical since India’s semifinal exit from the ODI World Cup in England in July. He has missed the tour of the West Indies and the home series against South Africa and Bangladesh.

Read: Dhoni will decide future after IPL next year: Report

“I think MS Dhoni will wait with patience to see the performance of Rishabh Pant and Sanju Samson. Whenever he gets an opportunity and he will take a call after the IPL because the way I am seeing it, MS Dhoni is preparing himself for the IPL. I’m sure he will do well like he has done whenever he plays and leads CSK,” said Laxman about Dhoni’s future.

“If both these youngsters don’t grab their opportunities, probably there is a thought that MS Dhoni can come back provided he shows that form in the IPL leading up to the World Cup.

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