'Don't pick a player for 10-12 balls. He showed no interest to bat in top-5': Gambhir's fierce remark on Pant vs Karthik

Updated on Sep 17, 2022 09:21 PM IST

Gautam Gambhir didn't mince his words as he talked about the Rishabh Pant vs Dinesh Karthik debate for the wicketkeeping spot in Indian T20I playing XI.

Rishabh Pant; Dinesh Karthik(ANI)
Rishabh Pant; Dinesh Karthik(ANI)

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced India's 15-member squad for the 2022 T20 World Cup earlier this week, that saw two wicketkeeper-batters in Rishabh Pant and Dinesh Karthik. Pant has been an integral part of the Indian team across all formats of the game since last year, while Karthik made scintillating return to the T20Is – thanks to an incredible outing in the 2022 Indian Premier League for the Royal Challengers Bangalore.

In the recently-concluded Asia Cup, Karthik was picked in India's playing XI ahead of Pant for the side's opening game against Pakistan; however, Pant returned to the wicketkeeping role in the next game. The left-handed batter, then, retained his place in the Super 4 matches against Pakistan and Sri Lanka while Karthik sat out for both games. The duo played together for India's final match of the campaign against Afghanistan. Their appearances signify a dilemma of sorts for the Indian team management over a first-choice wicketkeeper-batter but former India opener Gautam Gambhir had a rather straightforward answer to the question.

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During a virtual press conference organised by Star Sports ahead of the series between India and Australia, Gambhir was asked whether it is possible to play both, Karthik and Pant in the same XI. The former India opener didn't agree.

“You can't do that. If you do that, you will miss out on a sixth bowler and you will not go into the World Cup with five bowlers. You need to have a backup. Unless you drop someone like Suryakumar Yadav, or KL Rahul has a bad tournament.. you can push Rishabh Pant to open the batting. Otherwise, I don't see both of these players in the middle-order,” said Gambhir.

The World Cup-winning former Indian batter stated that Rishabh Pant would be his first choice in the wicketkeeping role because Karthik has “shown no interest” in batting at higher positions. Pant, meanwhile, has opened the innings on multiple occasions in T20Is this year and usually bats at no.5 or 6 in the order.

“To start with, Rishabh Pant. Because I have said it in the past as well, you don't pick a T20 player only to play 10-12 balls. There is no guarantee that he is going to win you games. And Dinesh Karthik, unfortunately, has shown no interest in batting in the top-5. Your wicketkeeper has to be able to bat in the top-5 and Rishabh Pant has that quality to bat at any number for that matter,” said Gambhir.

“I will definitely have Rishabh Pant in my batting order. I don't believe in the notion that you need a left-hander in the middle-order. That's not the criteria, especially in a side like India. The criteria should be the ability to win a game, and Rishabh Pant has that. So yeah, Pant to start with at no.5, Hardik Pandya at 6, Axar at 7 and see if you want to Ashwin at 8, followed by three seamers.”

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