Young Indian wicket-keeper batsman Rishabh Pant is under fire following a mediocre display behind the stumps in the fourth ODI between India and Australia in Mohali.
The apparent heir of MS Dhoni missed a couple of opportunities and even attempted an MSD-like run-out, but failed in his attempt which drew chants of Dhoni from the crowd.
But amid such criticism, the 21-year-old's childhood coach has come out in his defence, stating it is unfair to compare Pant to Dhoni due to a number of factors.
"Such comparisons are cropping up because, like Dhoni, he (Pant) is also a wicketkeeper-batsman. But it’s unfair on him because it puts undue pressure for him to perform in a particular way, and be like Dhoni. He performs the best when his mind is free," Tarak Sinha said.
He also mentioned that the youngster's poor outing with the gloves is a part and parcel of the game, and even the best, including Dhoni, had dropped catches in the past.
"Which keeper in the world hasn’t missed a catch or a stumping? Even Dhoni missed catches and stumpings at the start of his career. The good thing is that the selectors persisted with him and did not drop him after one season. He improved with time to become one of the greats of the game," Pant's childhood coach added.
Tarak Sinha further felt that Dhoni did not have the baggage which Pant is shouldering, given the former Indian skipper came into the Indian team without having to fill the boots of any legend.
"There’s a difference between the Pant of today and Dhoni 14 years ago when he was making his way into the Indian team. Back then, he did not come with the kind of baggage like Pant has. There wasn’t any legendary wicketkeeper whom he was replacing. The guys back then were either Dinesh Karthik or Parthiv Patel, players younger to him. So, he (Dhoni) was free from the pressure and expectations that Pant is facing today," he also mentioned.
The Mohali crowd on Sunday expressed their frustration with the performance of Pant by chanting the name of Dhoni. In front of Virat Kohli, who was at a point standing near the boundary line, fans demanded the Indian skipper to recall Dhoni, who was given rest for the final two ODIs against Australia.