Rishabh Pant or Dinesh Karthik in playing XI? Cheteshwar Pujara explains who suits Team India better against Pakistan
Cheteshwar Pujara feels it's "impossible" to include both Rishabh Pant and Dinesh Karthik in the playing XI.
Team India will look to kick-off their Asia Cup 2022 campaign on a positive note. The Men In Blue will face Pakistan in their opening encounter and ahead of the high-voltage clash it will be interesting to see how coach Rahul Dravid and captain Rohit Sharma assembles India's playing XI.
In all likelihood Rohit along with KL Rahul will open the innings, with Virat Kohli and Suryakumar Yadav coming as the next batters. Now as far as the wicketkeeping department is concerned, India have two in contention - Rishabh Pant and Dinesh Karthik - who also are in good form.
Sharing his views on the same, India's Test specialist Cheteshwar Pujara feels it's "impossible" to include both Pant and Karthik in the playing XI. "It's a big headache for the team management as both (Pant and Karthik) are doing really well in T20 format. The call is whether you want someone to bat at No.5 or you want a finisher who can bat at No. 6 or 7," Pujara said on ESPNcricinfo T20 Timeout.
“So, I would say, if you want someone at No. 5, Rishabh Pant is a better choice. But if you want to a have a batting line-up with a very good finisher who is likely to play 10 or 20 balls and give you 40-50 runs, I think DK (Karthik) is the better option,” he added.
Pujara, who is well aware of how the team runs, believes Pant would be preferred over the senior wicketkeeper-batter irrespective of the form.
"Personally, I think knowing the team management (and) knowing how things work around the team, I would think they might go with Pant because he is a left-hander and gives the team a bit of balance with left-right combination," the Saurashtra cricketer, who is busy with County Cricket duties in England, opined.
Pujara also mentioned that Suryakumar deserves to be a part of the XI and should not be dropped to accommodate both Pant and Karthik. "Surya is one of our top T20 players, so I would definitely want him in the side because he can… he is someone who has done really well for Mumbai Indians (in IPL). Whenever I've seen him at No. 4, he has done exceptionally well.
"So, I don't think the team management will leave him out. If Rishabh and Karthik both have to play then I think you have to drop one of the top-order (batters), which is impossible. So, I don't think both can make the playing XI," said Pujara.
In case if Karthik is not part of the XI, Pujara believes the onus of giving India a strong finish then falls up on all-rounder Hardik. "I would prefer Hardik for that (finisher's) role because he is someone who can strike from ball one and his strike rate is above 150. I don't think Rishabh can do that job because he needs a little more time.
"And if he (Rishabh) comes in to bat, it should be somewhere around 10 or 12 overs… and if he gets 8-10 overs, he can score a 50 or a bit more than that," said India's Test specialist.