Support has poured in for wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant after he was mercilessly trolled for filling in Dhoni's shoes to keep the stumps in the fourth ODI in Mohali on Sunday after the latter was rested for the remaining contests against Australia.
Pant gave away several lifelines to the Aussie batsmen - two missed stumpings; first, a straightforward chance to get Peter Handscomb out in the 39th over and the next Aussie to survive was Ashton Turner, who eventually went on to score a match-winning 84 off 43 taking Australia to a series-levelling win 2-2 with a match to go.
During the 44th over when Yuzvendra Chahal was bowling to Alex Carey, Pant tried to pull off Dhoni's "no look" trick to get Carey run out and missed the stumps by quite a margin.
Chants of "Dhoni...Dhoni" soon filled the Punjab Cricket Association IS Bindra Stadium and the 21-year-old Pant's bad day on the field turned into a nightmare after the home crowd started booing the youngster.
Twitter didn't spare him either and direct comparisons between the 37-year-old Dhoni and him were made.
But did Pant deserve all that flak that came his way? Dhadkan actor Suniel Shetty disagrees. Batting for the young talent, Shetty urged netizens to "give him a chance."
Taking to his Twitter handle, Shetty reminded cricket fans that Pant was only 21 and has already represented India in all the formats of the game.
"He’s just 21 and represents India in all 3 formats. Let’s introspect and see what we were doing at that age. Give him a chance. @RishabPant777 u are pure talent keep the focus, you got this !" he wrote.
He’s just 21 and represents India in all 3 formats. Let’s introspect and see what we were doing at that age. Give him a chance. @RishabPant777 u are pure talent keep the focus, you got this ! pic.twitter.com/GDySpRgiGU— Suniel Shetty (@SunielVShetty) March 11, 2019
Shetty wasn't the only one to come to Pant's rescue. Akash Chopra and many others felt that the fans were being too harsh on him.
Stop searching Dhoni-the keeper in Rishabh Pant. He’s work in progress. The question should be—Is he worth investing in?— Aakash Chopra (@cricketaakash) March 10, 2019
My answer—YES. #IndvAus
Also, bear in mind that IF Pant is picked for the World Cup, he WONT be playing ahead of Dhoni. And he WONT be keeping. So...it’s kinda unfair to judge him purely as a keeper. I thought he played a fairly decent knock today. Struck well. #Pant #IndvAus— Aakash Chopra (@cricketaakash) March 10, 2019
"We learn from our mistakes and improve ourselves with time."
Rishabh Pant misses the stumping and crowd chants 'Dhoni.. Dhoni'. But its hard on the young man. Let's allow him to get settled in ODI cricket.— Broken Cricket (@BrokenCricket) March 10, 2019
Rishabh Pant's Instagram right now.— Abhishek (@ImAbhishek7_) March 10, 2019
Come on Dhoni fans, He doesn't deserve this 😣 pic.twitter.com/wUheEEmsEk
Dhoni Dhoni trending even when he is not playing shows the standards the legend has set. Young Rishabh Pant will learn day by day and anyways for WC it's Thala Dhoni who is donning the WK Gloves. So let's keep calm and back our player. Mistakes happen. #IndvAus— Saravanan Hari 🏏 (@CricSuperFan) March 10, 2019
Meanwhile, India and Australia will face each other in the final and decider ODI in Delhi on March 13 (Wednesday).