Rishabh Pant speaks about his journey pursuing personal goals vs team goals.
Rishabh Pant was one of the success stories from India's triumphant Test series, as the dependable wicketkeeper and swashbuckling left-hander made significant contributions with the bat and behind the stumps.
Does he see a bright future for himself?
"I am focused on the present. Am not thinking much about the future right now. As a youngster, I want to keep improving every day. That is what I am looking forward to achieving. Every day when I get on to the field, I am learning from everyone in the team," said Pant, with disarming simplicity.
Did he expect to be this good in Australia?
"I always expect big things from myself. The main thing that I normally do is to focus on the process. That is what is helping me in every situation," he revealed.
Who cultivated this precious habit, when the most talented of youngsters are weighed down by the anxiety to perform, burden of expectations or the fear of failure.
There is tremendous competition for every spot in the current Indian team and that has elevated the overall standard of the side.
What does he do to stay ahead in the pecking order?
"I do expect to play for India for the next 10 or 15 years. But, as I said, I just focus on the process, fitness and work ethics, to ensure that I stay in the race for a long period of time. The key is performing well for the team. Personal achievements are good, but it is more important if you can see how well you can contribute to the team to make it better," he observed.
"My coach has always maintained that good basics are important, irrespective of you playing a T20, one-day or Test match. You need to have strong basics. Then, you play according to the situation. In a T20 game, you have to be positive. If you are playing one-day, you can give yourself a little more time. If you are playing a Test, then you have enough time," he remarked.
There has been a strong influence from his Delhi team mate and India captain Virat Kohli on the young man.
"Virat is influencing cricketers all over the world. His work ethics, to be at the gym, even on an off-day. If he can do that as a legend, for me he is a legend, why can’t we do that," he queried.
What does Virat tell him?
"One thing he always says is that you don’t have to play 100 matches to gain experience. You can watch others play in two matches and learn from their experience. He is very friendly, loves to be happy," he said.
Wicketkeeping is very demanding, and then to come back to smash the bowlers all around, calls for some energy.
There is a conflict inherent in cricket: the pursuit of individual goals in a team sport. You want the team to win, but you also want to make runs to keep your place in the side. It is quite telling that as recently as 2017, a coach who had worked with some of the biggest names in T20 felt that players still rated themselves by the traditional metric of the batting average. It naturally follows that in trying to keep that average high, in trying to retain their place, batsmen run the risk of being at odds with the team's goals.
This gets all the more vexing if you don't bat in the top three. There is no time to make up for slow starts. Your striking efficiency has to be high: there are no field restrictions in place to take your shanks and mishits over the 30-yard line and rolling into the fence. The pitch has probably slowed. It is easier for limited batsmen to be shut down, with fewer boundary options because of the spread-out fields and the fact that the opposition's best spinners are bowling.
It is no wonder everybody wants to bat in the top order, where more is expected of you but you have the time and the freedom to go about your innings. Some ordinary T20 batsmen have found their way into top-ten lists for aggregate runs or high averages simply because they have the luxury of batting in the top order. Teams have to strike a balance between the old notion of letting their best batsmen play the most deliveries and having their best batsmen bat in the most challenging phases of an innings, he concludes.