The time has come for Rishabh Pant to “unleash” his rich potential in all three formats, said India captain Virat Kohli ahead of the first T20 international against West Indies on Saturday.
With little clarity over the future of veteran M.S. Dhoni, Pant has now become the preferred choice in all three formats and that was pointed out by chief selector M.S.K. Prasad after the selection panel picked the squads for the West Indies tour.
“It’s a great opportunity for someone like Rishabh Pant to really play a lot of international cricket, show his credentials, really unleash his potential at this stage,” Kohli said on Friday.
“We know how much ability he has and we all want him to become a consistent performer for the Indian cricket team. MS Dhoni’s experience is always going to be a very crucial factor but having said that some of these younger guys have a great opportunity ahead of them and they should just look forward to it.”
Kohli has already said the tour is a good opportunity for fringe players like Shreyas Iyer and Manish Pandey to stake a claim for a spot in India’s brittle middle-order in ODIs.
The T20I on Saturday will be India’s first outing since the heart-breaking loss to New Zealand in the World Cup semifinal last month. The skipper is yet to get over the loss.
“The first few days after we exited the World Cup were quite difficult. Till the time the tournament got over, every time we woke up it was the worst feeling in the morning. Then through the day you do things and sort of get on with your life. We are professionals. We move ahead. Every team has to move on.
“So we are quite okay with what happened in the World Cup. Yesterday the fielding session and the little bit of time we spent on the field was really good. Everyone was excited, looking forward to just playing, just being on the field again. I think that’s the best thing you can do as a team, just get on the park as soon as possible.”
The Indian team could not train ahead of the game due to rain but having played here three years ago, it has an idea of the conditions.
“I think the covers look the same,” quipped Kohli.
“We haven’t seen the pitch, we haven’t seen anything apart from the covers on the pitch. When we play tomorrow, we can assess how the pitch has come along. Even last time we played, it was pretty good, high-scoring, and we all had a lot of fun playing here, and this time is going to be no different.”
Kohli is all for having more international games in the United States.
“For now I think it’s all about creating that buzz and just getting people in to watch the games. The more we come here and play, obviously the game is going to get more and more buzz around it, people are going to talk about it.
“You see 15,000-20,000 people going to a place to watch something, obviously it should be important. Hopefully in years to come, people will have more interest. Local people in America as well, not just the Asian community or the West Indian community but the whole community in general will have more interest in the sport.”
He feels the T20 format is the ideal one to promote the game globally.
“I think T20 cricket is something that can be understood and accepted in the American culture because of the length of the game and it’s quite entertaining as well. So I think for the sport to become global in many ways, a lot of interest here will go a long way in achieving that for the sport,” he added.