Chennai: Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin on Tuesday said that the country should embrace how good Rishabh Pant actually is rather than seeing negatives in his game.
Ashwin's remarks came as India achieved an emphatic 317-run win against England in the second Test of the ongoing four-match series. As a result, the series stands levelled at 1-1 and Virat Kohli-led side has also reached the second spot in World Test Championship (WTC) standings. Pant scored an unbeaten 58 in the first innings of the second Test, however, he impressed many with his wicket-keeping skills. The youngster kept really well to the spinners and he even took amazing catches along with a few remarkable stumpings. Ashwin also highlighted how Cameron Green was built up during the Australia series even though his returns in the series weren't that great.
"Okay, I did not think that I would say this but let me say this now. About two months back, there was a cricketer called Cameron Green, who made his debut for Australia. Even before he made his debut, everybody said that he was the "next big thing". I think he got 150 runs in the entire series against us and didn't get a wicket, but how much he was built up in Australia made me reflect on how we as a community treat our cricketers. It gave me a massive perspective. They play for the country and at times, it feels you know that we are searching as to what's wrong with them," Ashwin said during a virtual press conference on Tuesday.
"Rishabh Pant is an excellent cricketer and there are many excellent cricketers in the country. Pant was always going to be a good cricketer and he was always going to improve. Only if we back them in such a way that we want them to improve, they will improve faster. If we are going to find loopholes and faults, the cricketers are going to take that much longer. I think it's more of a mindset issue for us and we should embrace how good a cricketer he is. We tend to see a lot of negatives. If we see a lot more positives, we will see a lot more champion cricketers," he added.
The pitch used in the second Test has been a subject of severe criticism and greats like Michael Vaughan and Mark Waugh have stated as to how it was not a "Test standard" wicket. However, Ashwin said that everyone is entitled to their opinion and it is not a big deal.
"Look, it is us who are getting bothered by all this. I mean everybody is entitled to an opinion, whoever is giving their opinion are totally well within their rights to give their opinion. It is us who are reading into it and seeing if it is working or not so we as a cricketing fraternity or as a country, dealing with such sort of accusations, need to get a little better," said Ashwin.
"We must just hold pride in saying how we are playing good cricket. Test matches are played over time. I am completely fine with how the English cricket experts have their opinions, because we will also have our opinions reserved when we tour abroad but we don't complain or crib, we just get on with it. I have never seen any of our greats be it our coach Ravi Shastri or Sunil Gavaskar, they have been on lots of tours, but I have never seen them talk about pitches having a lot of grass or all those things," he added.
Further elaborating on his point, Ashwin said: "I think it's more of mentality, when people come out with such opinions we should respect them but I think we should be able to magnanimously deflect then away from what they are saying."
Ashwin took an eight-wicket haul in the second Test, along with his 106-run knock in the second innings as India registered an emphatic 317-run win here at the MA Chidambaram Stadium on Tuesday. In the second innings, the visitors were bowled out for 164 as debutant Axar Patel took his first five-wicket haul in Test cricket.
India remains in contention to make the final of the ICC World Test Championship after completing an impressive victory over England in the second Test to draw level in the four-match series.
The victory in Chennai on Tuesday has lifted India to the second position with 69.7 percentage points on the points table but they cannot afford to lose another match as they need to win 2-1 or 3-1 to qualify for the final of the maiden edition of the championship.
England, who led the table after winning the opening Test, has slipped to the fourth spot with 67.0 percentage points. They can still qualify, but for that, they must win both remaining matches of the series against India.