India’s squad for 2019 World Cup will be announced on April 15. Most of the berth is taken, but there’s one spot that is the bone of contention. The spot is for the second keeper’s spot between Dinesh Karthik and Rishabh Pant. Who will make the cut? Or, both will keep their places?
There’s likely that either of them will get a World Cup berth as three keepers will be a luxury in the tournament. So, who should be drafted in India’s 2019 World Cup squad between Karthik or Pant?
Rishabh Pant is favourite/ Dinesh Karthik lacks star power
Popular sentiments say Pant will be the lucky one as he is a big hitter of the ball and India would need someone to add flourish to the innings in the company of Hardik Pandya. Pant was also part of India’s squad in the last ODI series against Australia at home and hence, he has the selector’s backing ahead of Karthik.
Even Virat Kohli and Co. would prefer someone like Pant to add the killer edge to the middle-lower order with his big hitting and penchant to tear apart any bowling attack.
On the other hand, Karthik may feel bitter about the whole episode of being left out of the ODI series against Australia while he did his job as a finisher regularly before Pant came into prominence.
Karthik also lacks the star power that Pant now commands in the cricket world. Karthik would be right to feel done in if he is left out of the World Cup squad.
Karthik’s performance in Nidahas Trophy is already history now and he won’t be able to regain his spot on the back of that performance. Besides, MS Dhoni’s legacy has put Karthik on the background, while Pant has risen above that and came into the public domain.
IPL performance gives Pant the edge ahead of Karthik
Although Kohli has said IPL performance will have no bearing in World Cup selections, it looks highly doubtful as the form would definitely be given priority. Pant played some useful cameos for Delhi Capitals in IPL 2019 and impressed everyone with his big hits. His knock of 78* against Mumbai Indians was at best brutal, tearing apart the bowling of best limited-overs bowler in Jasprit Bumrah.
Also, Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri have always given form the first preference over the class. Remember Rohit Sharma being chosen ahead of Ajinkya Rahane in the Test series in South Africa in 2018.
Karthik has not set the stage on fire yet in IPL 2019 and that could go against him. It has been Andre Russell who has finished off games for KKR, while Karthik has failed to do the job of a finisher in the tournament so far.
And that could backfire against him, especially when India are looking for a finisher in the middle-lower order. And Pant’s finishing act of 78* against MI could be his ticket to the World Cup.
Pant better keeper than Karthik?
Pant has been for long deemed to be the successor of Dhoni. Pant has been an efficient keeper behind the stumps and has taken a few blinders in IPL 2019 so far. And that puts Pant ahead in World Cup selections. Karthik has not done badly either, but Pant’s super-human catches behind the stumps make him favourite to stake a claim for the World Cup ticket.
But experience matters…
Does India really need flamboyance ahead of experience? Will experience not matter in a big tournament like the World Cup? Does India not need the experience to bail out shaky middle-order?
With Dhoni’s big hits on the wane and finishing acts not up to marks in ODIs, it’s Dinesh Karthik India would fall on to take the team across the finish line.
And Karthik has played a few memorable finishing acts since the Nidahas Trophy final but a tall score has eluded him. And that has put pressure on him to keep his place in the team.
With an inconsistent Ambati Rayudu in the line-up, India may do well to have a back-up No 4 in the experienced Karthik to bail the team out in top-order collapses.
Hence, it will be interesting to see who between Karthik and Pant will make the cut.