2019 World Cup 2019: Why MS Dhoni and not Rishabh Pant should be a part of the Indian squad
While India continued their dominance over the Australians in the Test series, the selectors had an important task at hand, to pick the ODI squad for the ODIs in Australia and New Zealand. It was just a few days prior to the last Test match in Sydney the Indian board of selectors finalized the team. Keeping the view of World Cup 2019 in mind, MS Dhoni was included over Rishabh Pant as the specialist wicketkeeper in the side.
However, as the Sydney Test progressed, Pant slammed a classy 159 not out when India declared the innings. Pant’s 159 was a way to tell the selectors that the young boy in him has now matured into a man. Two overseas hundreds against tough opponents tell a lot about the character of the young wicketkeeper.
At then many pundits felt that Pant can be drafted into the side as a specialist batsman. Also with the Sydney knock, Pant finished with over 350 runs in the Test series, something which placed him ahead of Ajinkya Rahane and Virat Kohli in the list of highest run-getters in the Australian tour. Following the Sydney knock, the selectors may have regretted their decision to drop Rishabh Pant from the ODI squad but the hard decision was already taken. The ODI squad that competed in Australia featured Dinesh Karthik as a reserve wicketkeeper and that meant Pant had to be dropped from the team.
MS Dhoni had a greater point to prove to the whole world. Ever since the England tour, people scrutinized MS Dhoni’s role of being India’s most reliable finisher that he used to be in his prime. Secondly, some section of people even sympathized young Rishabh Pant to miss out on the side at the cost of MS Dhoni’s inclusion.
When it comes to silencing the critics, there is no player who can match up to MS Dhoni’s intent and hunger to perform at the highest level. In the ODI series against Australia, MS Dhoni, not only managed to bail India out in all the matches, but his three consecutive half-centuries also earned him the ‘Man of the Series’ award.
This defines the character of a legend which can’t be seen in a young Rishabh Pant. When it comes to keeping wickets, Rishabh can hardly match up to MS Dhoni, who holds the world record for affecting the maximum number of stumpings. Dhoni’s reflexes are far better than young Rishabh Pant, who is still gathering insights into the game.
When the reigns of captaincy were handed over to Virat Kohli, the BCCI made it very clear that MS Dhoni’s role will be that of a mentor who can guide Virat till the 2019 World Cup. Indian cricket is yet to find a sharper cricketing mind than MSD who brings a high level of game awareness in every match and his time tested proven strategies can unsettle some of the biggest oppositions of the game.
The selectors are right on their calculations to involve Dinesh Karthik as he had been given an extended run over the past year. With his experience and so much exposure to the game, he appears to be a more reliable limited over specialist than Pant.
Lastly, the selectors can still fit Rishabh Pant along with Dinesh Karthik and MSD. But such a move can disturb the dynamics of the team. India always had a very strong batting line-up and this time, fortunately, our bowling unit has come together to tick all the right boxes. Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvaneshwar Kumar are menacing as never before and so is our spin twins of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal.
Ideally, the selectors won’t like to disturb the batting as well as the bowling line up. If there is any spot where Rishabh Pant could be forcibly included is of an all-rounder. That essentially means Kedar Jadhav or Hardik Pandya may have to sacrifice their spot for Rishabh Pant. So Rishabh Pant’s inclusion in the World Cup 2019 squad is certainly a question of debate.
A youngster of his caliber should ideally be included in the side, but if such a move is going to disturb the dynamics of the team then it should be avoided at all costs.
MSD’s inclusion in the recently concluded ODI series looks fairly justified. The Indian cricketing fraternity still owes a lot to MSD. He will be remembered as a man who brought the maximum number of ICC trophies, built a world-class team with the highest level of fitness and mentored so many youngsters under his shadow. If this legend bids adieu to the game post the World Cup 2019, the Indian cricket team is never going to be the same again.