When crowd used to tease Pant with ‘Mahi Mahi’ chants! Chahal recalls Rishabh’s initial struggle

Indian spinner Yuzvendra Chahal has heaped rich praise on Rishabh Pant, saying the young wicket-keeper-batter looks a very mature cricketer now from the time he came into the side. He added that when Pant was picked as the first-choice wicket-keeper after MS Dhoni, people had doubted his ability and questioned whether he would be able to fill the legend’s big boots, which pressurised the then 20-year-old boy.

“Actually, everyone wanted him (Pant) to be like Mahi bhai. The way MSD was behind the stumps. I remember if Pant would ever drop any catch or the DRS went wrong, then the whole ground would start shouting Mahi Mahi.

“So, there was a lot of pressure on that child (Pant)…because he was only around 19 or 20 years old at that time. We would tell him to ignore all these things and focus on your game. He was under tremendous pressure…then he was also out of the team for a while,” Chahal told SGTV.

Pant has, however, now become Team India’s first-choice gloveman across all three formats. After going through a tough time, he made a staggering comeback when he lit up the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in Australia series.

His brilliant innings of 97 and 89* in Gabba Test helped India won. Then he returned to India’s white-ball sides — in ODIs and T20Is against England in March — and performed really well. 

Pant also played all four Test matches against England recently and has become one of India’s biggest match-winners, especially in Test matches.

“He made a superb comeback. He has improved a lot; he has shown a lot of maturity. His performance has been really good and I guess people should understand that when a sportsperson is on the ground, he tries his best, and nobody wants to perform badly. People should give a little respect to the player, Chahal said.

“Bowlers are now getting good help from Pant being behind the stumps. See, there is no replacement for any player. There can be no replacement for Mahi bhai. Pant is trying his best to do better and better. No need to do comparisons,” he added.

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