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‘A Class Player in Tests But His Performances in T20s Resemble an ECG’: Aakash Chopra on Talented India Batter

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India produced a strong show in the third T20I against South Africa in Vizag that has kept the ongoing five-match T20I series alive. But on Friday evening, the hosts find themselves in yet another must-win situation with the tourists still leading 2-1 and needing a win to close out the series.

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India openers Ruturaj Gaikwad and Ishan Kishan were in terrific touch with each peeling off a half-century while Hardik Pandya applied the finishing touches to push them to what turned out to be a winning total. However, the performance of one player again came under close scrutiny.

Rishabh Pant has been battling form in T20 cricket for some time now. In the series opener in Delhi, he did score 16-ball 29 but followed that with two single-digit scores of 5 and 6 in the second and third T20I respectively.

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In fact, 44 is the highest he has managed in his last 10 innings stretching back to IPL 2022 where he led Delhi Capitals before being handed over the captaincy in the absence of injured KL Rahul for the South Africa T20Is.

In a stark contrast, Pant has been performing exceptionally well in Test cricket where he averages 40.85 in 30 Tests having struck four centuries and 9 half-centuries. Whereas in 46 T20Is, he averages 23.32 and has just three fifties to show for.

Former India opener Aakash Chopra has said Pant will have to score some runs in the remaining two T20Is, calling him a ‘class player in Tests who has failed to replicate the success in the shortest format.

“Rishabh Pant will have to score more runs, he hasn’t been able to score much so far. In the first match, he played a significant knock but since then he hasn’t looked the same Rishabh Pant. He’s a class player in Test but in T20, it’s been up and down for him like an ECG,” Chopra said on his YouTube channel on Friday.

Chopra also thinks that the Indian team may not make any changes to their bowling combination and if they do, it might be Avesh Khan who will be pushed to bench.

“Avesh Khan is the only one (apart from Axar Patel, Yuzvendra Chahal, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Harshal Patel being the other four) who hasn’t taken a single wicket. India can make a change if they want to. It’s going to be a subjective call but will be interesting as to who replaces him. Either of Arshdeep (Singh) or Umran (Malik) might be given a debut. Don’t raise eyebrows if they go with the same bowling attack though. It’s absolutely fine,” he said.

Chopra also said that Vizag defeat has revealed that South Africa lack depth in their batting department. “South Africa’s batting lacks depth, they have been reminded of that. If the pitch offers turn, then they will be exposed more. But expect them to come strong and hard. South Africa remain the only team against whom India have never won a T20I series at home,” he said.

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