The injury to Shikhar Dhawan has given an opening to Rishabh Pant to play in 2019 World Cup. Dhawan has been ruled out of the tournament due to a thumb injury. Pant has been named as a replacement. The Indian team management has now problems of plenty. It’s not about whom to select but whom to drop from the XI. The question is the No 4 spot again with Pant and Vijay Shankar competing for a place in the XI and the two-down slot.
Technically, Vijay Shankar has been chosen as No 4 by the selectors and he has made a strong claim for himself with his all-round abilities in the match against Pakistan.
Although he did not bat at No 4 as Hardik Pandya was promoted ahead of him, he gave India’s first breakthrough by dismissing Imam-ul-Haq off his first delivery of World Cup. He also scored 15 runs late in the innings.
Can India drop their 3D player Vijay Shankar and go for the talented, and explosive batsman in Rishabh Pant at No 4?
India’s No 4 has been of much debate for the last two years and the game of musical chairs has also done its round in the 2019 World Cup. India have promoted Pandya at No 4 in two of three matches possible, while KL Rahul took the spot in the first game. With Rahul replacing Dhawan as the opener, the No 4 spot is again for discussion.
India have been flexible with their No 4, choosing players depending on the match situation. If India are in a strong position during an innings, they have sent in Pandya to cash in on the momentum.
Vijay Shankar suitable when top-order fails
But India are yet to face a top-order failure and they would need a sane, technically equipped batsman to stop the slide and build a partnership. Shankar has excelled in this pressure situation before. And on top of it, he gives India more options.
During the Pakistan game, India did not miss injured Bhuvneshwar Kumar as Shankar filled in as a bowler brilliantly.
Pant at No 4 remains a gamble
Pant does not inspire much confidence at No 4 as he has not played an innings under pressure yet in ODIs at this spot. He has not shown the temperament, skills to grind it out and accumulate runs if the team needs someone to stay at the wicket and tide away tough times.
But yes, if it comes to big shots, making mincemeat of the bowling attack, Pant has done his reputations a lot of good during the IPL.
But at No 4, you need someone to take control of innings and anchor it to safety. Pant is found wanting in this respect.
Pant to replace Jadhav?
Another thought is that Pant can be used at No 6 in place of Kedar Jadhav. But the CSK player has not got enough overs to prove himself in the World Cup yet. Besides, his golden arm can come in handy anytime. The team management may persist with Jadhav for a few games. But Jadhav would see Pant breathing down his neck for a place in the XI.
Shankar to stay?
At the moment, Shankar and Jadhav look certain to retain their places in the XI in the clash against Afghanistan on Saturday. Pant may hope one of the two misfires to get a place in the XI in the later matches in the World Cup.