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Dhoni's shoes big ones to fill but I am prepared for the challenge: Pant

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27th-Jul-2019       
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Rishabh Pant believes that replacing MS Dhoni in the Indian cricket team as the first-choice wicketkeeper-batsman is a challenging task but he is ready for the challenge ahead.
"I know those are big shoes to fill, but if I start thinking about it there will be a problem. Right now, I am not thinking about what people say. I am just focusing on what I have to do," Pant told Hindustan Times.
"I just want to do well for my country. That's the only thing I am focusing on. I take the challenge positively. Now I have to see what I can learn, and what I can do to improve."
Former skipper Dhoni will be unavailable for the tour to West Indies in August, meaning Pant will likely be the first-choice wicketkeeper in at least the limited-overs sides.
The 21-year old has played almost all his ODI and T20I matches alongside Dhoni and wants to inculcate certain aspects of the veteran's game into his own.
"The way he reads the game, that is the first thing. Then, he is always very calm in pressure situations. There are many things to learn from him.
"And off the field he is always very helpful too. I look to always keep learning from the seniors."
One area where Pant matches Dhoni is in their swashbuckling style of batting, something that has made the youngster a favourite of many Indian cricket fans.
For his part, Pant is not willing to rest on his laurels and wants to add new tricks to his repertoire on a regular basis, heeding advice given to him by his coach.
"My coach has always told me one thing: every year you have to add something to your game. You can't stagnate because now the technology is so good that you have to keep improving and add on things each and every day of your career.
"That's what I try to do. I just keep on trying new things. If it helps me, I try it in a match. There are days when I try these new shots in the nets, some days I don't. It is all part of a long-term process."
The long-term process of becoming a successful cricketer started early for Pant, who shifted from Roorkee to Delhi in order to give himself a better chance of making his dreams come true.
Pant reveals that shifting bases was his father's idea because Uttarakhand didn't have a Ranji Trophy team at that point, adding that his family supported him all the way.
"The decision (to shift to Delhi) was my father's because at that time Uttarakhand did not have BCCI affiliation.
"So he knew that there was no point playing in Uttarakhand and that I had to move out somewhere. That is why he sent me to Delhi. If you are going out of your state, you are taking a risk.
"But then I had to take it because if I had continued playing in Roorkee, there would have been no point in playing cricket.
"My family supported me at every step, whatever situation I found myself in. My family was always with me, backed me and helped me. It was challenging, of course.

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