In the first T20I against New Zealand, India needed 165 runs to win. They got off to a great start and despite the fall of KL Rahul’s wicket, Rohit Sharma (48 runs) and especially, Suryakumar Yadav (62 runs) put India in an advantageous position with their fabulous knocks.
In what should’ve been a straightforward run-chase from that point, India almost ended up botching the match. Rishabh Pant and Shreyas Iyer seemed to be stuck at both ends. It took a boundary from debutant Venkatesh Iyer and another from Pant in the final over to rescue the game and earn the first victory under new head coach Rahul Dravid’s tutelage.
Although Pant did hit the winning runs, he was guilty of inviting pressure after having a slow start to his knock. Former Indian wicket-keeper Robin Uthappa, however, praised his efforts and mentioned that finishing the game is not an easy task. Uthappa also added that Pant’s skills as a finisher will only improve with time as he takes on the role more and more.
“As viewers we feel that the skills of a finisher is easy. Absolutely not. It’s an extremely difficult skill to have. If a finisher is finishing 5 or 6 games out of 10 for his side, he’ll be regarded as one of the best finishers. So Rishabh Pant should be given time. Let him get used to the role of finishing matches. The more matches he will see through and finish, the more confidence he will gain,” said Uthappa while reviewing the first game against New Zealand with ESPN Cricinfo.
Bowling consecutive dots and the quick dismissals of Shreyas Iyer and Venkatesh Iyer allowed New Zealand to get back in the game towards the death. However, Rishabh Pant dismissed the fears of the Indian supporters in Jaipur with a boundary after holding on to his wicket at one end.
India’s run-chase against New Zealand was essentially flawless except for the part at the end where they needed to finish the match. This is an area of the game they’ve struggled with in the post-MS Dhoni era.
Robin Uthappa made it clear that the knock against the Black Caps in the first T20I would’ve improved Pant’s confidence. The experience will also help him the next time he has to face a situation like that.
“Yes, he made 17 in 17 against New Zealand, but because he finished the game, he would’ve surely gained some confidence. This will not only help him, but it’ll be good news for us also. We desperately need a finisher in our Indian team. And as supporters, it’ll be our responsibility to give him time to settle and not put pressure on him,” Uthappa concluded.