The series between India and South Africa was washed out in the fifth and final T20I, resulting in a 2-2 draw. While there were many positives for India in the series, including the impressive comebacks of all-rounder Hardik Pandya and senior batter Dinesh Karthik, there was one major concern for the team – captain Rishabh Pant's form. While the wicketkeeper-batsman impressed with his leadership skills, particularly in the third and fourth T20Is, his batsmanship fell short.
Pant only scored 57 runs in four matches, and he was dismissed three times chasing deliveries wide of the off-stump. Many former cricketers have criticized Pant's batting performance, but India's former batting coach Sanjay Bangar has offered a possible solution to Pant's problems.
Bangar drew parallels between Pant and India's batting great Sachin Tendulkar, insisting that the former cricketer's first century in white-ball cricket came when he opened the innings for India, speaking on Star Sports ahead of the fifth T20I.
“I've been thinking about it for 3 years. If you look at Sachin Tendulkar's career, he hit his first century in his 75th or 76th innings when he was asked to open the innings against New Zealand after batting largely in the middle-order. Right now, the Indian team is looking at a left-right combination. Yes, Ishan Kishan is doing good right now, but if the Indian team is eyeing a left-right opening pair for the long term, Rishabh Pant can do the same job that someone like Adam Gilchrist did for Australia,” Bangar said.
“We're talking about off-side (problem) for a long time now. But when does it happen? When the field opens up. Can we use Rishabh Pant in the powerplay where the bowlers can't give enough width? Yes, there will be challenges because the ball will swing early on, but then, Rishabh Pant is a quality batter. He has scored nearly 3,500 international runs in his short career. So, I'm thinking along those lines. It may not be right now, but maybe in the future,” Pathan said.