Pant-Iyer 'miscommunication' no laughing matter
Pant's poor shot-selection and that cavalier disregard for match situation has made several former players scratch their heads. - AFP
Dubai - After the fall of Shikhar Dhawan in the 8th over, both Pant and Iyer walked out of the dressing room, before the latter stopped, allowing the former to join Kohli in the middle.
The Indian team management's lack of clarity over the number four slot in the middle-order has already cost them the World Cup in England.
Having bizarrely used the World Cup as the stage to experiment on the pivotal batting position in the middle-order, the think tank has decided to invest on Rishabh Pant, a young man blessed with a talent to make bowlers look ridiculous with his stroke-play.
But the 21-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman has yet to convince the pundits that he has a temperament that could match his wonderful talent.
You need to be seriously good to score two away hundreds in just 11 Tests at such a young age.
Pant's brilliant Test centuries against England (114 at the Oval, London) and Australia (159 not out at the Sydney Cricket Ground) proved that India have unearthed a special talent.
But it's in the white-ball cricket that the Haridwar-born player has struggled to find the right balance between attack and defence.
His poor shot-selection and that cavalier disregard for match situation have made several former players scratch their heads.
It has become apparent that the classy Shreyas Iyer could be a better player at number four than the flamboyant Pant.
Iyer was sublime in the one-dayers against the West Indies - even though the Mumbaikar had to come in at number five as the team management continued to send Pant in at four.
Pant's twin failures with the bat in the two matches against the West Indies may have put Virat Kohli's team in a difficult position, but Iyer stepped up at number five in both games with two stupendous knocks (71 off 68 balls and 65 off 41 balls) to send a message to the team management that they are probably using the wrong player at number four.
Remarkably, the Indian team management has failed to see that Iyer could be just as explosive as Pant. But unlike the left-handed Pant, the 24-year-old elegant right-hander could also curb his attacking instincts if the situation demands him to play cautiously.
So when India's new batting coach Vikram Rathour asked Pant to stop being 'careless' when it comes to shot-selection, we thought, 'okay, maybe, Iyer would finally get a chance to bat at number four in the South Africa T20I series'.
But no, Pant continued to enjoy his luck without coming close to sealing the number four slot.
And now it has emerged that the Indian team management actually decided to send Iyer in at four in the second T20I against the Proteas, which the home team lost by nine wickets.
But 'miscommunication' between Pant and Iyer almost saw both players walking in at four against the South Africans in Bangalore.
After the fall of Shikhar Dhawan in the 8th over, both Pant and Iyer walked out of the dressing room, before the latter stopped, allowing the former to join Kohli in the middle. "The batting coach had a word with both of them. There was a misunderstanding over who has to go at what stage," Kohli admitted at the post-match press conference.
"It was a little funny as well afterwards because they both wanted to walk in. So it would have been very funny if both reached the pitch, you know three batsmen in the field!"
Kohli said the team management "had made plans" according to match situation.
"I think after 10 overs what we had decided was that Rishabh would walk in, and before that, Shreyas had to walk in. But I think both of them got confused and didn't realise who has to walk in at what stage of the game," Kolhi said.
The Indian captain chuckled while admitting to the dressing room blunder.
But this was no laughing matter as it reflects badly on the team management.
And it also proves that the Indian think tank still hasn't learned from their World Cup mistakes.