New Delhi: Mahendra Singh Dhoni has been Rishabh Pant's sounding board for a while now but there was a time when comparisons with the legendary former India skipper left the young keeper-batter so stressed that he struggled "to breathe".
Pant is still recovering from a life-threatening car crash in 2022 and acknowledged that at this stage, Dhoni is the only person with whom he is comfortable sharing just about everything in his life.
But he also admitted that comparisons with the iconic Ranchi man were hard to take in the early days of his career.
"I used to really feel very bad. I used to go back to my room and cry at 20-21 years of age. Under stress, I couldn't breathe. So much pressure, and I didn't know what to do. I missed a stumping in
Mohali, and the crowd started to chant 'Dhoni Dhoni'," Pant said in a 'Star Sports' series that documents his recovery from the accident.
Pant said at this point he feels emotionally overwhelmed while talking about his dynamics with the 2011 World Cup winner.
"I always find it difficult to explain my relationship with MS. Dhoni. There are some with whom you can talk freely. I discuss everything with MSD. I have learned so much from him.
"I discuss things with him that I wouldn't discuss with anybody else. That's the kind of relationship (I have) with him," Pant said.
Pant, who was inarguably India's biggest game-changer in Test cricket before being thrown off track by the horrific crash, said before it became hurtful, he was genuinely confused by the comparisons with a bonafide legend like Dhoni.
"First of all, I didn't understand why questions were raised. I had just made it to the team, and people were talking about being a replacement," Pant said.
"Why were people raising such questions at a youngster? Why are you comparing? There shouldn't be any comparison at all. Some have played five matches and the others have played 500. It's been such a long journey, so many ups and downs, so the comparison is not fair." Pant said he would forever be indebted to seniors like Yuvraj Singh for making him comfortable when he first came in.
"At the start, I was very young, and there were a lot of senior players, a lot of them actually. Yuvraj Singh, MS were there, all seniors. It does take some time, but I didn't get the feeling of them being super seniors.
"They were very welcoming and made me very comfortable. They make every new player very comfortable. This is the culture of the Indian team," he said.