‘He can change game immediately’: Rahane names India's best bet in T20 World Cup

Updated on Oct 22, 2021 08:15 PM IST

Ajinkya Rahane heaped praise on India all-rounder Hardik Pandya and wicketkeeper-batter Rishabh Pant ahead of the T20 World Cup 2021. 

India's Rishabh Pant bats during the Cricket Twenty20 World Cup(AP)
India's Rishabh Pant bats during the Cricket Twenty20 World Cup(AP)

Veteran batsman and India's Test vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane feels that wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant would be a game-changer for India in the ICC T20 World up 2021 where the team will open their campaign against arch-rivals Pakistan on October 24 in Dubai.

Talking about his IPL team Delhi Capitals' captain, Rahane said on 'Salaam Cricket 2021' on Sports Tak, "He is such a batsman who can change the complexion of the game immediately. We have seen his ability in Australia in Tests, also against England, he scored runs. He has improved his game immensely. He now knows how to take his game one notch above."

Pant scored 419 runs in 16 matches in IPL 2021 at 34.91 and with a wtrike rate of 128.52. He also scored three half-centuries.

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Rahane also urged team management to back all-rounder Hardik Pandya, who has long been struggling with his fitness leaving his position in India's World T20 XI a talking point. Pandya's prolonged absence from bowling attack and inconsistency with the bat has led to experts questioning his position in the XI. He has not bowled for Mumbai Indians in IPL 2021 nor was he brought into the attack in any of the two World T20 warm-up games that India played this week.

"We need to support him. When a player comes back from an injury, we don't know what situation he goes through and what is his mindset. It is easy to talk from outside, but what that individual is going through, we can't even feel it," said Rahane said.

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"He has won India many matches in this format with some impactful performances. There will always be outside news, who should play and who shouldn't. Hardik's role is very crucial and we need to back him.

The 33-year-old also talked about how dew could play a major role in the tournament making toss a crucial aspect of the game.

Dew factor didn't matter in the initial period but it started to make a mark in the finishing stages (during IPL) as the weather started to change a bit," Rahane recalled.

"It came down hard in the final few games, especially in Sharjah, where the toss became very important because of the dew.

"The ball will grip on the UAE wickets which are a bit slow. Batsmen found it difficult to play scoring shots but that changed a bit because of the dew factor. The toss will be very important because of the dew factor."

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