DK or Pant? DK and Pant both? No, it's DK-Pant
Dinesh Karthik and Rishabh Pant are now busy in their world. If there can be a batters' club, a fast bowlers' gang, a spinners' group, why can't there be one for the keepers?
The giggles slowly become audible. For they often turn into laughter accompanied by loud claps. DK and Pant are busy with their own classroom even as the rest of the Indian cricketers do the boring stuff - bat and bowl in the nets. Just a while ago they had gone through the same routine for about an hour or so, mind you. But now, they have had enough of it. Dinesh Karthik and Rishabh Pant are now busy in their world. If there can be a batters' club, a fast bowlers' gang, a spinners' group, why can't there be one for the keepers? So what, they have been fighting for the same spot since Karthik's return to the Indian side earlier this year. So what, Pant was a 7-year-old kid when Karthik first donned the Indian blues. So what?
Welcome to the DK-Pant world. Remember, not DK vs Pant or DK and Pant, it's DK-Pant. Inseparable, always united, side-by-side. The scenes were from Mohali ahead of the series opener vs Australia but it could very easily have been Nagpur, Hyderabad, Thiruvananthapuram, Perth, Melbourne, Adelaide against South Africa, Pakistan, England, Afghanistan... DK and Pant are not just two exceptionally talented cricketers often pitted against each other by fans, experts, and sometimes even the Indian team management.
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They are two individuals ready to understand and learn from each other. Needless to say, the competition for the keeper's spot has done little to create any rift between Pant and DK. In fact, it has probably got them close.
DK-Pant is more than bromance (just in case you thought so). They are not all laughs and no business. They often spend a considerable amount of time discussing all things cricket.
Take the net session in Guwahati on Friday for instance. It was an optional net session. The majority of India's first-XI players had decided to give it a miss to stay fresh for the second T20I against South Africa on Sunday barring DK, Pant and Axar Patel. The others present were Shreyas Iyer, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Siraj and Shahbaz Ahmed.
DK, Pant and Iyer lined up from left to right in the net session. Karthik faced the throwdown specialists while Pant padded against Umesh Yadav, Shahbaz Ahmed and other net bowlers. Karthik belted the ball while Pant struggled a bit, especially against Umesh Yadav. They switched nets after some time and Karthik too had a hard time against Umesh but he composed himself after initial few hiccups.
There's not much to read into that period of 45 minutes but what happened afterwards should give another example of DK-Pant. Karthik, done with his batting, nearly interrupted Pant's session as he had some suggestions to give to the left-hander. Pant listened like an obedient student in awe as DK, the professor continued to explain things with multiple hand gestures. DK perhaps didn't like the way Pant was dealing with the short balls in the net. This is not to say, he was in any discomfort handling the bouncers but he wasn't taking them on.
The duo had a good 10-12 minute long chat before Karthik walked back complaining about the excessive heat of Guwahati while Pant carried on for some more time.
Both DK and Pant know that only one of them will feature in the majority of the World Cup matches lined up next month in Australia and in all probability, it will be DK because of his finishing skills but the way they have developed a strong bond with each other in the past few months is heartening to see.