The year 2019 will witness one of the marquee sporting events of the world, the ODI Cricket World Cup which will be held in England and Wales. Ten top teams from round the world will battle it out to lay their hands on this prestigious trophy.
India have been touted as the favorites to lift the silverware this time around along with the hosts, England, by many cricketing pundits. For this same event, the Indian squad was announced on the 15th of April and there was much furore among the mass when it was realized that the dynamic hard-hitting keeper batsman, Rishabh Pant, was dropped from the squad in favor of a more experienced Dinesh Karthik.
Amidst of this public outcry, MSK Prasad, the chairman of selectors reasoned the decision to pick up Dinesh Karthik ahead of Rishabh Pant by the selectors by stating, “All of us felt that either Pant or Karthik will only come into playing XI if Mahi is injured. If it is a crucial match, wicket-keeping also matters, so that is the only reason why we went ahead with Dinesh Karthik otherwise Rishabh Pant was almost there.”
We at CricWizz believe in the same that Dinesh Karthik in favor of Rishabh Pant was actually a wise decision taken by the selectors and to further prove this point, below we reason out points that will make the commons to believe in the same theory.
Having debuted for India back in 2004, Karthik is already a veteran of one ODI World Cup squad, back in 2007, along with being a member of the victorious 2007 ICC World T20 team and the victorious 2013 Champions Trophy-winning group. An experienced campaigner, Karthik knows what it is needed to don the Indian jersey and play in the World Cup.
Already playing 149 times for India out of which 91 are in ODI’s, Dinesh’s experience of past competitions may come in handy when India are in crunch situations as the Tamil Nadu man can absorb and soak in pressure while coming to bat at say 21/3 in 12 overs.
Rishabh Pant, on the other hand, is relatively young with just 29 international matches under his belt while being just 21-years old, he has a whole future ahead of him. He should right now just focus in improving his batting and keeping skills, and if he manages to continue impressing just the way he is doing at the moment, the Delhi born southpaw is destined to greatness.
It is true that Pant in his short test career holds a distinctive record of 11 catches in a single match, which is the most by a wicket-keeper for India in tests, however, it is also true that he isn’t consistent while keeping. Although he may take quite a few blinders, he would more often than not drop sitters. Presently, he is not at all a reliable keeper and needs to work a lot on his keeping skills.
Dinesh Karthik, on the contrary, is a reliable wicket-keeper and can be really good more often than not behind the stumps. He unlike Pant won’t leak away runs in the form of byes. If one checks Dinesh’s stats, he has played in 26 ODI matches for India as a designated keeper and has been involved in 41 dismissals (34 catches & 7 stumpings). Thus, his rate of dismissals per innings is an impressive 1.576. Rishabh, on the other hand, has played in just 2 ODI’s as a designated keeper, being involved in just 2 dismissals (2 catches). His rate of dismissals per innings is thus just 1 per match, despite having played fewer matches.
A keeper’s duty is not just to keep wickets but to also assist the bowler and his skipper in field placements. A keeper moreover also helps the bowler by advising the line and length to bowl according to the pitch condition and the batsman present in the crease. Dinesh Karthik is far more experienced to assist the bowlers in these areas as he is a veteran of international cricket for 16 years.
Nowadays, a keeper also has to assist his bowler and skipper for referrals. We have more often than not seen Pant getting excited and asking the skipper to take a referral, which eventually turns out to be a waste of a decision. Dinesh, on the other hand, is mature enough to understand the importance of referral and only asks for it when he is wholly sure. All of these beliefs were resonated by the chairman of selectors, MSK Prasad while addressing the team for the World Cup as mentioned above.
One has to agree that Rishabh Pant is a pathetic fielder. He is neither agile nor athletic which is a must in today’s generation of fielders. Unless MS Dhoni gets injured, neither of these two players will get into the playing eleven as a designated keeper, hence fielding is also necessary.
We have seen ample number of times that Rishabh Pant is hidden in the fields just like a fast bowler so that he does not have to field in areas where ball easily finds its course. He is neither good in inner-circle nor in the outfield. Dinesh Karthik is completely the opposite. He is athletic and agile and is one of the best fielders in the Indian team. He can not only field in inner-circles but is equally good in the outfield too.
Karthik has played in 65 matches as a fielder and has been involved in 27 dismissals (26 catches). His rate of dismissals per innings as a fielder is 0.415. Pant, on the other hand, has been involved in 3 dismissals (3 catches) while playing in 3 matches. Although his rate of dismissals per innings as a fielder is better at 1 than Karthik, but it is to keep in mind that this is because he has only played 3 matches as a fielder.
VERSATILE WHILE BATTING
Dinesh Karthik is two-dimensional in terms of versatility while batting. He is protean temperamentally and also in batting position. He can bat as per the situation of the game. If say India are 21/3 in 12 overs in a match, he can come out and play a defensive innings while trying to anchor and build the Indian innings. However, if in a match India need say 65 runs in 36 balls, he can also act as a pinch hitter and a finisher and can come with all guns blazing playing attacking shots that will help India win the match as was evident in the final of the 2018 Nidahas Trophy.
Rishabh Pant, meanwhile, is totally a one-dimensional player. He would come in the crease and would hit balls right from the word go. This often makes him vulnerable as experienced quality bowlers don’t mind being hit for few boundaries but in the process dismiss him easily.
Karthik can also bat at any position. He has opened the innings for India 20 times, in which he has averaged 25.2. He has also played as a number three in 7 innings where he has averaged 26.42. If Vijay Shankar fails to don the number four role for India, Karthik can take over this responsibility as well as he has batted in 18 innings as a number four batsman averaging an impressive 38.72. It should also be kept in mind that he had donned the similar role for the Men in Blue in their victorious 2013 ICC Champions Trophy campaign at England.
Karthik further averages 37 as a number five batsman in 12 innings, 29.42 in 11 innings as a number six and 39.50 as a number seven, his career-best average in a position, in 9 matches as a batsman. Thus, looking at this number one has to agree that he can bat at any position and can act as an integral member for Virat Kohli’s men in winning the World Cup for the third time.
PROVEN CAMPAIGNER IN INTERNATIONAL CIRCUIT
Rishabh Pant has proved himself just in the IPL and in four innings of Test Cricket. Although he has performed in crunch situations in the IPL, this hasn’t been seen by the Delhi player while in Indian jersey. And one should not judge a player for just his IPL performances as international cricket is still a bar higher than IPL.
His first Test century against England came at a time when the team had almost lost the match. Chasing a mammoth target of 464, India were 121/5 when Pant came into bat. With the series already being lost and the match out of grasp, he started playing attacking cricket that resulted in him scoring a brilliant maiden century. His second test century against Australia was also when India were comfortably placed in the match. Similarly, his twin 92 against the Windies also came when India were placed in a comfortable position.
On the other hand, Dinesh Karthik has proved himself a number of times in International circuit. Most recently in the finals of the 2018 Nidahas Trophy, when it looked like that India can no more win the match, his innings of 29* in 8 deliveries helped India achieve the inevitable as the Men in Blue marched on to victory before requiring 34 runs in 12 deliveries. In a tournament like the World Cup, a proven champion is required more than a talented player and Dinesh Karthik seems o fill this void too.
Looking at all of the above points, one now understands fully as to why the selectors opted for Dinesh Karthik more than the dynamic Rishabh Pant. If India march on to lift the World Cup trophy and if Dinesh Karthik justifies his selection with performances in the field then this call by MSK Prasad and his team will be termed as a masterclass and would be always seen as an example while selecting a player over the other.