India coach Dravid backs Pant despite poor South Africa series

India head coach Rahul Dravid said Rishabh Pant remains an "integral part" of the team's batting-line up despite struggling for runs in their Twenty20 International series against South Africa.

Leading a second-string India side in place of injured captain KL Rahul, Pant scored 57 runs in the first four matches and was on one when Sunday's final match in Bengaluru was abandoned due to rain. The series ended 2-2.

"He remains an integral part of our batting line-up," Dravid told reporters on Sunday. "We know what he does with the power he has ... Of course, personally, he would have liked to have scored a few more runs but it's not that concerning.

"When you're asking people to play a slightly more attacking brand of cricket in the middle overs and to take the game on a little bit more, sometimes it's hard to judge based on two or three games.

"For us, he is certainly a very big part of our plans going ahead in the next few months."

Heading into the series, Pant had scored 340 runs in the Indian Premier League at a strike rate of 151.78 - much higher than his 113.95 and 128.52 in the previous two seasons but still lower than in 2018 and 2019.

"I thought he had a pretty good IPL. He might not have looked good on the averages, but his strike rate was really good," Dravid said.

"He looked to move that up a little bit - to where he was probably three years ago.

"We're going to hope that we can get those kinds of numbers from him at the international level as well. In that process, he might go wrong in a few games."

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