India captain Virat Kohli had recently requested the supporters of the team to not boo Rishabh Pant by chanting MS Dhoni's name since it is 'disrespectful' to the legend as well as fact that the young southpaw could end up getting demotivated. However, on Sunday, an under-pressure Pant played a mature knock to bring up his maiden ODI half-century. It made the crowd chant the 22-year-old's name at Chepauk.
India played West Indies in the first ODI at Chennai, a venue which also happens to be the home of the franchise MS Dhoni captains in the IPL, Chennai Super Kings. Having been invited to bat first, the Indian top-order collapsed as they lost Kohli (4), KL Rahul (6) and Rohit Sharma (36) early, but Rishabh Pant, who has been severely criticised in the last few months for his average performances both behind and in front of the stumps, scored 71 runs to rebuild the Indian innings. Pant stitched a 114-run partnership with Shreyas Iyer to help India build a respective total on a slow wicket. The Delhi-based wicketkeeper-batsman smashed 7 fours and a six during his 69-ball stay to help the hosts post a respectable score of 287 in 50 overs.
Earlier, ahead of the three-match T20I series, Kohli had said that the team believed in Pant's ability and added that it was everyone's collective responsibility to give that player some space to do well. The Indian skipper went on to say that if Pant fluffed a chance, people must not shout Dhoni's name in the stadium because it was disrespectful and no player would like that to happen. Kohli added that when playing in India, supporters should back their own players rather than wait for a mistake a player would make, just to mock him. Meanwhile, India were thrashed in the first ODI by 8 wickets on the back of centuries by Shimron Hetmyer and Shai Hope. The series now moves to Visakhapatnam where the teams will battle it out in the second ODI on Wednesday, December 18.