Rishabh Pant has had a tough few months with his performances going downhill and the fans not taking kindly to him.
In the ODI series against Australia earlier this year at Delhi, which also happens to be Pant’s home ground, the crowd chanted “Dhoni! Dhoni!” after Pant sent a wrong DRS call.
He wasn’t greeted kindly in Rajkot either with chants coming in Dhoni’s name after he dropped a chance to stump a Bangladeshi batter, with him gathering the ball in front of the stumps.
Virat Kohli, India’s skipper, has come out in defence of Pant ahead of the series against West Indies.
“We certainly believe in Rishabh’s ability,” Kohli said. “When you say it’s the player’s responsibility to work hard, perform and do all those things, I agree. But I think it’s the collective responsibility of everyone around as well to give that player some space to do so as well. If he misses a chance or something, people can’t shout ‘MS!’ in the stadium. It’s not respectful if I have to put it that way.
“No player would like that to happen. If you’re playing in your own country, you should get support rather than always thinking about what mistake is this guy going to make. No one wants to be in that position.”
Rohit Sharma had also called out the crowd behaviour at Rajkot after the game against Bangladesh.
“As Rohit rightly pointed out as well, he needs to be left alone. We know he’s a match-winner and once he comes good you will see a different version of him – which you’ve seen in the IPL already because he’s free, he’s relaxed there,” Kohli said. “He feels that there’s a lot more respect when it comes to his ability and what he can achieve for the team. I think he needs to feel that a bit more around him.
“He can’t be isolated to an extent that he gets nervous on the field. If you want him to do well and win matches for the team, all of us collectively need to make him feel like he belongs, and we’re here to do things for him rather than against him.”