Pant identified as MSD successor, Rahane gets T20 wake-up call

New Delhi, Jan 6 (PTI) Rishabh Pant was “extremely hurt” when he did not make it to the India A squad last year during their tour to Australia. But he is likely to feel much better after todays selection in the T20 team for the series against England. Pants selection is also a wake-up call for Ajinkya Rahane. The Delhi left-hander is a far more powerful striker of the ball and a busy player who can up the ante, which has been Rahanes bane in the shortest format. “Yes, I was hurt as I was not selected for the A tour of Australia. I had then decided that I will score as much runs possible that no one is able to ignore me,” Pant had told PTI after scoring his maiden triple hundred in Ranji Trophy. It was very difficult to ignore the prolific Roorkee boy, who scored 972 runs in Ranji Trophy at an astonishing strike-rate of 107.28 across nine games which included a triple hundred and the fastest first-class hundred in Indian cricket. His selection in the T20 team is an indication that he is being seriously looked at as Mahendra Singh Dhonis successor in shorter formats as Wriddhiman Saha still remains Indias first choice in Test matches. “I feel that I am learning everyday. I have just started off my career and I need to get better. The more I will play, the better I will get. The IPL (he played for the Delhi Daredevils) certainly helped me as I got a chance to face a lot of quality bowlers. Interactions with international players like Chris Morris helped me improve my game,” the stocky boy, who became an overnight sensation after fetching 1.9 crore at IPL auction, said during an interaction on the sidelines of Delhis Ranji practice. For him, his coach at Sonnet Club, Tarak Sinha, has been his mentor. “Tarak sir is not like a father. He is my father. The Sonnet club means everything to me,” said Pant, spoken of highly by Ashish Nehra, who had kept a check on his progress since his joining the club. In fact, Sachin Tendulkar autographed a bat for him after his triple hundred against Maharashtra at the Wankhede, late last year. Pant will be expected to also play the role of a reserve opener if Mandeep Singh is the preferred choice. If Pant can rack up a few big scores, he can put a lot of pressure on Rahane in ODIs as well. Pants batting prowess will always give Kohli a chance to play extra bowler. Obviously the new selection committee will be investing in Pant as slowly and surely he will be eased into the role of a glovesman when Dhoni decides to call time on his career. PTI



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