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Cricket news - Pant can be a massive player for the Indian team - Rathour

India's batting coach has advised against a break for the out-of-form Pant.

India's batting coach has advised against a break for the out-of-form Pant.

India's batting coach Vikram Rathour has backed under-fire wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant to overcome his ongoing poor run of form and has advised against handing him a break. Speaking ahead of the ODI series against West Indies, Rathour reiterated that Pant is putting in the hard yards and is hopeful of the youngster winning games for India soon.

The 22-year-old has been under scrutiny for a while especially for his tendency to play rash shots which results in him throwing his wicket away. Even though his Test career began with a bang, Pant has found himself on the sidelines for the home series against South Africa and Bangladesh recently. He is yet to register a half-century in 50-over cricket and hasn't registered one in the eight T20Is he has played this home season as well.

"The reason why we keep discussing him is that he has got an immense ability," Rathour said ahead of the first ODI in Chennai. "Everybody believes he can be an x-factor. All of us believe he is a good player who can come good. He is working hard on his game, his fitness. Once he starts coming good he can be a match-winner. He has been given an opportunity because he has done well in the past in this format. Once he starts getting runs, he can be a massive player for the Indian team.

"Regarding break, I don't think the time has arrived yet. Again he is working on certain things. He is looking good in the nets. He has been decent in the T20s. We are hoping he comes good. He was asked to do a certain job in the last T20 which he did. That's what the team looks for. It didn't come off which will happen on certain days."

Rathour also backed Mayank Agarwal to grab his chances if selected in the XI at some point in the series. Shikhar Dhawan's injury opened a door for Agarwal to stake a claim in the ODI side and even though KL Rahul is expected to open the innings alongside Rohit Sharma, the Test opener's recent List A record keeps him in good stead according to the batting coach. "Mayank Agarwal, again, he has done so well in domestic cricket for many many years, got into the Test team and did really well," he noted. "One day cricket again his record at A level I think he is averaging more than 50, he got a good Vijay Hazare this year as well. Looking at the overall picture, he has done well in this format as well, we are all happy to see him in the squad in this format as well. Let's see if he gets an opportunity and wherever he gets an opportunity, we are hoping he does well."

Even though teams appear to be focussing more on the T20 format with a World Cup approaching in ten months, Rathour insisted that there will not be a drop in the intensity. "We play different formats in this sport," Rathour observed. "We are playing against one of the good teams in shorter formats. They keep showing time and again they are pretty strong in shorter formats. We are taking it as a bilateral series against a good team and we are looking to win it. We will be playing with our full intensity and we will be giving our best."

Rathour has also called for the batsmen to be more fearless in their approach while batting first. While India have gained a reputation to be very good at chasing down targets in limited-overs cricket, there are some concerns when they go on to bat first. "We are the number one team in the world while chasing targets, so that is one box we needed to tick off," he said. "While batting first, you need a different kind of fearlessness, when you are chasing targets you know what to chase so we plan our gameplans better. Batting first, that is one area we need to work on. The way we batted in the last game, it was a big tick in the box so looking forward to maintaining that."

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