Former South Africa skipper, Graeme Smith has opined that Rishabh Pant can be happy with the way he led the Indian team in his debut as T20I captain despite the result not going the team’s way on Thursday in New Delhi. India reached a mammoth score of 211 but failed to defend the target as South Africa got over the line in 19.1 overs to take a 1-0 lead in the 5-match series.
Rishabh Pant was named as the stand-in skipper of the T20I side after KL Rahul suffered an injury on the eve of the series opener in New Delhi. The toss on Thursday did not go Pant’s way as India was asked to bat but the hosts did a good job, posting their highest-ever total against South Africa in T20Is — 211. Rishabh led from the front with an aggressive approach with the bat as the Delhi Capitals star scored a 16-ball 29 after Ishan Kishan shone at the top, hitting 76.
However, India failed to defend the score as Rassie van der Dussen and David Miller stitched a 131-run stand as the Proteas gunned down more than 120 runs in the last 10 overs to script their highest-ever successful chase in T20I cricket. Pant has been questioned for not giving leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal his full quota of 4 overs but Graeme Smith feels the skipper, who became India’s second-youngest T20I captain, made the right calls on the field.
After the game, during a chat on Star Sports, Graeme Smith said, “You always criticize the captain when you lose. You have got to take a lot on your chin. But I think to post his last game which was a must-win for Delhi in the IPL, where he made some tough calls and bad calls, I was interested to watch. He went to the right people at the right time. He tried to stay ahead of the game. When South Africa were under pressure, he went to Bhuvi, he went to Harshal.”
He further added, “All in all, he made the right decisions but your bowlers have to deliver, you have to execute the plans. But I think he can look back and say I made the right decisions at the right time. It was a good night in terms of decision-making. He will gain quite a bit of confidence from that outing.”
Rishabh Pant himself conceded that India failed to execute their plans with the ball while crediting Miller and van der Dussen for their match-winning effort with the bat.
Pant had said, “We had enough on the board, but I think we were a little off with the execution. But sometimes you got to give credit to the opposition. Miller and RvD batted well.”