'We saw how Gambhir performed in 2007, Yuvraj hit six sixes': Raina makes case for Pant in India's T20 World Cup XI
Raina gave the examples of his former teammates Gautam Gambhir and Yuvraj Singh, who were instrumental in India's only T20 World Cup-winning run in the inaugural edition in 2007 in South Africa to make a case for Rishabh Pant in India's XI.
It is quite evident that India have made up their mind on their first-choice wicketkeeper. It is Dinesh Karthik. But can there be space for Rishabh Pant as a specialist batter? Looks unlikely considering his current form and lack of space in India's middle order. But what might go in his favour is the fact that he is a left-hander. He is the only lefty who bats in the top four. Axar Patel is the other left-hander in India's T20 World Cup squad but he is an all-rounder and won't bat higher than No.6. That is why former India batter Suresh Raina believes Rohit Sharma and Co. can think about Pant as an option to add variety.
Raina gave the examples of his former teammates Gautam Gambhir and Yuvraj Singh, who were instrumental in India's only T20 World Cup-winning run in the inaugural edition in 2007 in South Africa. Gambhir, who used to open the batting with Virender Sehwag, was India's highest scorer of the tournament and was the top run-getter in the final against Pakistan while Yuvraj played match-winning knocks against England including the six sixes against Stuart Broad in the Super Six stage and in the semi-final against Australia.
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"Dinesh Karthik has been in good form and he has given good performances. But if Rishabh Pant is there in the side, it provides you with that X-factor because he is a left-handed batter. We saw how Gautam Gambhir performed in the 2007 T20 World Cup. Yuvraj Singh had six 6s. Then in the 2011 World Cup, both of them played a big role. So I think, being a left-handed batter gives you that advantage," Raina told NDTV when he was asked to choose between Pant and Karthik.
Raina, who himself is regarded as one of the best left-handed middle-order batters to have ever played white-ball cricket for India, said Pant is someone who can hit the ball for a six from ball one.
"Rishabh knows how to hit 6s from the first ball. If he gets a chance, he will definitely do well," Raina added.
India will play against Pakistan, South Africa, Bangladesh and the two qualifiers in the Super 12 stage of the T20 World Cup.