India’s Gabba hero Rishabh Pant admitted that his career took a turn for the worse post the 2019 World Cup, but insisted that it was the drive for self-improvement which kept him going. Pant, who orchestrated the Gabba chase, further claimed that, for him, the draw is always the secondary option.
After playing in the World Cup semi-final at the age of 21, a young and exuberant Rishabh Pant’s career looked set to reach great heights, but what instead followed was a tumultuous 18-month period for the youngster. After being earmarked and publicly backed by the management as the ‘next MS Dhoni’, Rishabh Pant’s stocks plummeted in limited-overs cricket, and failure to replicate his IPL form in international cricket, coupled with sloppy glovework, made him a cricketer fans loved to hate. Pant was relentlessly mocked for his mistakes and it came to a point where the Indian skipper Virat Kohli had to publicly plead with the fans to not chastise the youngster.
After his Gabba heroics, Pant is now an adored man in the country, but speaking to India Today, the 23-year-old revealed that his career hit an all-time-low post the World Cup. The southpaw claimed that it was his obsession to improve which dragged him out of the rut.
“There have been ups and downs, the World Cup was a massive opportunity because it comes once in every 4 years. But I got out in my 30s, I was very disappointed because that was one of the biggest opportunities for me. My career hit a low after the World Cup, but then slowly I started increasing my focus towards the game because there is always scope for improvement in life,” Pant told India Today.
“I’ve realised that there is no limit to how much you can improve, that’s what I’ve got to know in these last two years.”
Pant added that having now spent close to three years in international cricket, he has understood how to deal with criticism. The youngster admitted that people will pass crass comments on social media and try to pull a player down when things are not going right, but claimed that all that was a part and parcel of the game.
“If you’re moving forward then you’re improving, this is what I’ve learnt during the tough phase. Focus so much on your game that you don’t notice anything else. It’s difficult also to block the outside noise because of social media but I have segregated myself from it.
“When you’re doing well people will write good but when you’re not, they will criticise you. It’s part and parcel of a cricketer’s life nowadays. So if you don’t focus on the criticism and instead focus on your cricket then that’s much better I guess,” the 23-year-old said.
India’s historic 2-1 triumph, in many ways, was orchestrated by the Delhite, whose fearlessness rocked the Aussies in both Sydney and Gabba. When experts backed India to play out a draw, particularly at the Gabba, Pant, with his aggression, instead took the game to the opposition and drove his team over the line. The 23-year-old claimed that his primary focus is always to win, something, he says, is a mentality also echoed by the management.
“The mindset was always to play normal cricket, even the team management spoke about it in the first innings. Let’s look to score runs, cash in on the loose balls, just stick in there and do whatever you can at that time.
“The team management’s plan from the beginning of the match was ‘let’s look to win the match‘. Even my thinking has always been to win. I just want to win every game, draw is always the secondary option.”