Pant has been woefully out of form and his scores in his last nine innings across the two white-ball formats read 10, 15, 11, 6, 6, 3, 9, 9 and 27.
But India’s stand-in skipper Shikhar Dhawan has a different take on the issue and come out in full support of Pant, who he thinks is a proven “match-winner” and deserves full backing from the team management while he endures a difficult phase.
“Overall you have to see the larger picture and who is your match winner. You analyse and your decisions are based on that,” Dhawan said at the post-match interaction.
Known for his flamboyance, Pant played numerous match-winning knocks in the Test cricket but failed to replicate his success in the limited overs. The left-handed Pant continued his lean patch as he miscued a rising delivery to get out for a 16-ball 10 as India folded for 219 in the third and final ODI against New Zealand in Christchurch.
Samson, on the other hand, shone in the limited opportunities and was impressive in the home ODIs versus South Africa last month. The Kerala stumper got out after making 36 in the first ODI in Auckland. However, Dhawan asked Samson to wait for his chances.
Dhawan said it’s “not difficult” to be in the captain’s shoes while making tricky choices, such as picking Pant over Samson.
“Of course, Sanju Samson has been doing really well in whatever opportunity he got.
“But sometimes you got to wait for your chances, because the other player has done well and we know based on his (Pant’s) skill that he’s a match-winner. So you need to back him when he’s not doing well.”
India won the T20 leg 1-0 while the hosts took the ODI by an identical margin. However, rain was the clear winner in the six-match white-ball series with three games being washed out. One match was decided on Duckworth/Lewis method.
“It’s frustrating. We can’t control rain. But yes, we got opportunities, and got a chance to discuss our flaws, where we can improve. We discuss all that and analyse,” Dhawan said.
“The team bonding will be our biggest positive. The main team will now play in Bangladesh. But if one or two may get injured, this experience will come handy there. The young players from this series will get a chance,” said Dhawan who is also part of the ODI series under regular skipper Rohit Sharma.
The series begins on December 4.
(With PTI Inputs)