Rishabh Pant. (Photo Source: BCCI)
Rishabh Pant. (Photo Source: BCCI)

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Rishabh Pant, the young wicketkeeper-batter has made a remarkable turnaround over the past year to cement his place across all formats in the Indian team. His performances in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy earlier this year sealed his place in the side and Rishabh Pant has been justifying his selection ever since across the three formats. India will return to Test action on December 26 when the side takes on South Africa in the first of three Tests in Centurion.

The series in South Africa will see a return of multiple first-choice players in the squad, including the likes of Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, and Rishabh Pant in the batting order, among others like Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami. The aforementioned players were rested for the recently-concluded 2 match Test series against New Zealand.

Rishabh Pant. File | Photo Credit: AFP
Rishabh Pant. File | Photo Credit: AFP

Rishabh Pant Shown Glimpses Of Brilliance But He Needs To Be Determined And Fitness Focussed: Salman Butt

However, former Pakistan captain Salman Butt believes that the Indian youngster will have to continue focussing on his fitness and also pointed out a weakness in his Test batting approach.

“It’s the start of his career, he has shown glimpses of brilliance. But he needs to be very determined and focussed on his fitness,” Butt said on his official YouTube channel when he was asked to predict Pant’s future over the next 5-6 years.

“When you look at him, you’d feel that if he loses focus, he will gain weight very soon. The thing with him is he isn’t the tallest guy too, so the lack of fitness will show on his body as well,” said Butt. On his batting, Butt said that he “becomes very predictable.”

Salman Butt. Image-Twitter
Salman Butt. Image-Twitter

“He is super talented. But he has to translate it to big performances. He needs to think before playing his shots. Sometimes, he becomes very predictable, especially in Test cricket. He would step out and go for big hits. He needs to spend some time in the middle,” Butt said.

Rishabh Pant is likely to replace Wriddhiman Saha in Test XI when India takes on South Africa in the Centurion Test. After scoring 350 runs averaging 58.33 in 4 Tests in his maiden series Down Under in 2018/19 which included his career-best unbeaten 159, Rishabh Pant scored 274 runs at an average of 68.50 in five innings (3 Tests) for India against Australia in the next tour in 2020/21.

The keeper continued his form against England where he hit 270 runs at an average of 54.00 as he was the second-highest run-getter for India in the series. He has 1549 runs in 25 Tests averaging 39.72, after failures in WTC Final and 4 Tests against hosts England.

Rishabh Pant Resurrected His Test Career In Australia Tour 2020/21

On January 19, 2021, the world was witness to one of the best days in India’s recent Test cricket history. When openers Shubman Gill and Rohit Sharma came out to bat on the final day of the fourth Test in Brisbane, the odds were stacked in the hosts’ favour.

Rishabh Pant’s 97-run knock in the Sydney Test raised the prospect of an unlikely India to win before they had to settle for a draw. However, the left-hander was not to be denied in Brisbane, as he took India to a series-clinching win by scoring an attacking unbeaten innings of 89.

Shubman Gill (Express photo: Jasbir Malhi)
Shubman Gill (Express photo: Jasbir Malhi)

Australia had not lost at Gabba in the last 32 years and was last defeated by West Indies in 1988. India also missed the likes of Virat Kohli who was on paternity leave, injured Ravindra Jadeja and Hanuma Vihari in the batting line-up, as the stiff target of 328 seemed far away.

But with the help of a brisk inning of 91 from Shubman Gill, rock-solid innings of 56 from Cheteshwar Pujara, a brief cameo of 22 runs from Washington Sundar, and match-winning innings of unbeaten 89 from Rishabh Pant, the visitors picked a memorable 3-wicket win to clinch the series 2-1 despite facing several injury concerns.