‘Unfair to compare Pant and Dhoni’ – Bharat Arun

Written by Abhishek Patil

India bowling coach Bharat Arun has defended wicket-keeper batsman Rishabh Pant amid criticism of the the 21-year-old’s ability behind the stumps and the inevitable comparisons with MS Dhoni.

“[It’s] unfair to compare Dhoni and Pant. Dhoni’s stature is huge. He is a legend. His work behind the stumps is exemplary. When Virat [Kohli] needs someone to talk to, he is a huge influence on the team,” Arun said ahead of India’s fifth and final one-day international against Australia in Delhi on Wednesday, 13 March.

Pant played the fourth ODI in Mohali and while he returned a quick 24-ball 36, it was behind the stumps that he was put under pressure.

Dhoni has been rested for the final two games of this series, thus providing an opportunity for Pant to make a case for himself for the World Cup. He had a mixed day in Mohali: He missed a caught-behind opportunity against Ashton Turner when the batsman was on 38. Turner went on to smash 84* off just 43 balls to help Australia complete the highest successful run-chase against India and level the five-match series 2-2.

Then, while he got a DRS call right, he also misjudged one, also off Turner, and conceded an extra run while trying to deflect the ball onto the stumps. All of this was met with chants of “Dhoni, Dhoni” by the vociferous Mohali crowd.

The XI India field in the deciding ODI on Wednesday may give more indication of what their squad could be at the tournament in England and Wales, and Arun said trying out all possible permutations ahead of the marquee event is to leave no scope for error when the big games arrive.

“More or less the team is quite sure of what the combination is,” he explained. “But yes, we would like to try out all our options before the World Cup, so that there’s absolutely no room for any kind of error.”

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Abhishek Patil