Hard work paying off for Pant, says India skipper Kohli

© Reuters. New Zealand v India – First Test

By Amlan Chakraborty

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India captain Virat Kohli has every reason to feel vindicated for sticking with Rishabh Pant after his impressive glovework on a challenging track in the second test against England removed any doubts about his wicketkeeping ability.

Kohli has opted for the explosive batting and match-winning ability of Pant ahead of the assured keeping of veteran Wriddhiman Saha for the test side, with the skipper optimistic Pant’s skills behind the wicket would improve with time.

In Chennai, Pant plucked a pair of one-handed catches out of the air in England’s first innings and delivered two acrobatic stumpings in the second despite the pitch offering significant spin and bounce.

“He has really worked hard, … when he moves with the gloves you can see that difference in his reactions and reflexes,” Kohli said after India’s series-levelling victory on Tuesday.

“He’s shed a lot of weight and he’s become quicker on his feet, and it’s showing.

“The way he kept on this pitch with so much turn and bounce was a credit to him for working so hard.

“… we want him to keep improving as a keeper, get stronger and stronger with his skillsets, because we understand how much value he brings to the team.”

Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin said it was important to focus on the positives with players like Pant if they are to fulfil their potential.

“Rishabh Pant was always going to be a good cricketer, he was always going to improve,” Ashwin, named man-of-the-match award for his all-round display, said in a video conference.

“Only if we back them in such a way that they can improve, they will improve faster. But if you are going to find those loopholes and faults, cricketers are going to take that much longer.

“It is more of a mindset issue for us … We can see a lot of positives, but we tend to choose the negatives. If we see a lot more positives, we will see a lot more champion cricketers.”

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