Ahead of the T20I series against West Indies on Friday, Indian skipper Virat Kohli has backed under fire wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant while asking everyone to do the same. Pant has been out of form with the bat since MS Dhoni distanced himself from the game following India’s exit from the ICC World Cup 2019 with appeals increasing to replace the youngster with other wicketkeeper Sanju Samson. Despite that, Virat Kohli spelled out that the Indian team trusts in Pant’s capabilities.
In the pre-match customary press conference, when questioned by a reporter if Kohli had thought of promoting Pant to open for India, Kholi responded in the negative before explaning Pant’s present state of affairs.
"Not really (on opening). In the Indian team if you look at the top-3/4 batsmen right now - and I had mentioned this about (Wriddhiman) Saha as well in Kolkata when I was asked about him playing shorter formats and I said that in IPL you have 8 teams and you have a lot more players who can play in a lot more positions.
"We certainly believe in Rishabh's ability. But I think it's a collective responsibility of everyone around as well to give that player some space to do well. If he misses a chance, people can't shout MS' (Dhoni) name in the stadium as well. It's not respectful because no player would like that to happen. You are playing in your own country and you should get support rather than always thinking what mistake this guy is gonna make. No one wants to be in that position.
"As Rohit (Sharma) pointed out this as well, he needs to be left alone. He is a match-winner and once he comes good we will see a a different version of him which we have seen in the IPL where is he free, relaxed and he feels there is a lot more respect coming for his abilities and what he can achieve in the team. He needs to feel that more around him and he can't be isolated to an extent that he gets nervous on the field. All of us need to make him feel like he belongs and we are all for him rather than against him," concluded Kohli.
India and West Indies will lock horns in the first match of the 3-match T20I series on 6th December in Hyderabad.