India’s squad selection for the 2019 World Cup is getting interesting as there have been a few strong contenders for the premier tournament. However, the biggest selection headache for India selectors is to choose Rishabh Pant or not for the 2019 World Cup.
Most of the places for the World Cup squad is confirmed. But Indian selectors are dwelling to take the explosive batsman Rishabh Pant or opt for another all-rounder in Vijay Shankar or another medium pacer in Umesh Yadav or Khaleel Ahmed.
Even a spin all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja is also in the fray. Ajinkya Rahane too is in contention as his technique and skills would come in handy in English conditions. But Rahane has been out of India’s scheme of things in limited-overs cricket despite delivering the goods whenever he has been called for duty in this format.
Rishabh Pant’s selection would be hotly debated as India would then have to sacrifice an all-rounder or a medium-pacer. Cricwizz looks at reasons Rishabh Pant can be a useful addition to the 2019 World Cup squad despite a strong Indian batting line-up.
Pant’s presence adds variety to the batting line-up
Rishabh Pant is as explosive as Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit SharmaExcept for Shikhar Dhawan, India have a dominant right-handed batting line-up. Pant’s addition can add variety to the batting line-up and keep the left-right combination going to unsettle the opposition. India might do well to go with an extra batsman in Pant in the squad to cover up for injuries to the main specialist batsmen. Pant can easily replace an explosive batsman in Dhawan at the top if the latter meets with an injury during the course of the tournament. Pant-Rohit can then form the right-left opening combination at the top. Pant can even bat in the lower-order which is full of right-handed batsmen.
Three keepers, not an issue
India will have three keepers in the squad if Rishabh Pant gets selected for the 2019 World Cup. But so be it. MS Dhoni will continue to don the gloves, while Pant and Dinesh Karthik will be the two specialist batsmen. Pant can walk into any squad just because of his batting talent.
India are lucky to have three good keepers who are even better batsmen simultaneously. And Dhoni is the best among the three so far. Hence, all the talks of three keepers in the squad being a luxury is baseless.
Rishabh Pant can bat anywhere
Pant is a naturally attacking player and can bat anywhere in the line-up. He gives the team a lot of options. He can also be the reserve opener in the squad and replace any of the two specialist openers – Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma – if there is an injury during the World Cup.
Besides, Pant can bat in the middle-order and can even don the role of a finisher with his big hitting. Pant has in recent past replaced Dinesh Karthik in Test cricket and has done exceptionally well since in the five-day format. He too might get preferred over Karthik in the World Cup playing XI too, if Pant is selected in the original squad.
Pant can be the surprise weapon
In the 2011 World Cup, Suresh Raina was India’s surprise weapon as the southpaw made useful contributions with the bat lower down the order from the knockout stages. Pant too can be unleashed as the surprise weapon to the opposition in the business end of the tournament if any batsman is short of runs and out of form suddenly.
Pant provides the X-factor to the Indian squad. Even if Pant is in the reserve bench, it keeps the frontline batsman on the toes as they know that a couple of failures can see them getting replaced by the left-hander. Hence, it will add to the competition for places in the XI and lift the performance of the team as a whole during the World Cup. Even Dhoni would have to be in his top form due to the competition Pant will bing in the XI.
Pant will keep Dhoni, Karthik on their toes
Although Dhoni will be the first-choice keeper for the World Cup, he knows a couple of failures will see his place in the XI in jeopardy. Karthik and Pant will be ready to replace him. Hence, Dhoni will have to be at his menacing best to keep competition away. Even Karthik cannot take his place for granted in the XI. Besides, other batsmen too will be wary of the competition Pant will bring to the squad. Hence, it will give more options and depth to the squad when a batsman is ready to replace any of his fellow mates in the line-up.