ICC World Cup 2019: Rishabh Pant at number 4, former opener & chief selector makes big statement
Keeping in mind Rishabh Pant’s familiarity with English conditions, former Indian captain Krish Srikkanth has advocated playing the young wicketkeeper batsman at the number four position. The 21-year-old Pant has been brought in as a replacement for the injured Shikhar Dhawan in India’s World Cup squad but is yet to figure in any of the matches. “If I was involved with the team management, I think I would consider putting a guy like Rishabh Pant in at No.4,” Srikkanth wrote in his column for the ICC.
“They have brought him over here now, he is ready to go and, most importantly, he has played in England before so understands the conditions.” India will look to continue their winning run when they meet hosts England in their next outing on Sunday, and the 1983 World Cup winner said the situation is ideal for Pant’s inclusion.
“We saw him impress in the Test series here last summer when he came into the side and with England up next, maybe now is a good time to get him in there against a familiar opponent.
“In the middle order Vijay Shankar and Kedar Jadhav have yet to really convince. I think it’s fair to say that their approach needs some fine-tuning.” Srikkanth felt K L Rahul, entrusted with opening the innings after Dhawan’s ouster from the tournament, felt he must convert his starts.
“At the top of the order, Rohit Sharma has not fired the last couple of times, and that means K L Rahul needs to do more.
“He has made some fantastic starts but then got himself out - he will know better than anyone that he must convert those starts into big scores.
“Everyone knows he is capable of doing it, he has done it before and will need to correct his course.” The former opener said it is imperative that India don’t lose the momentum against England.
“India against England, on Sunday, in Birmingham, I think it’s the biggest game of the tournament so far. Momentum is everything in a World Cup, and right now India have it.
“India can afford to lose, but they won’t want to - carrying that positive mindset into the semi-finals is absolutely crucial.
“Look at Australia, they have wrestled back momentum, Pakistan are peaking at just the right time, it is now or never for England.” Srikkanth was all praise for skipper Virat Kohli and pacer Mohammed Shami. “He (Kohli) continues to break new ground. To reach 20,000 runs quicker than any man before him is a fantastic achievement but his true greatness lies in his adaptability.
“He can drop anchor and let his partner shine if that is what the team needs, then he can shift through the gears if the situation demands and keep pushing the run rate.”