Dinesh Karthik vs Rishabh Pant: The battle of veteran vs prodigy on the road to the 2019 World Cup
As the tournament of the utmost importance to cricketing nations, the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 draws ever closer, Team India have started to strategize about what could be their best combination of players to fly to England.
The scenario is quite evident, with constant changes being made in the playing eleven to examine the contenders.
With a handful of One Day International matches left in 2019 before the mega event, India is looking to try out all combinations, be it openers, middle order batsmen, all-rounders, wicket-keepers, spinners, or even fast bowlers. It was all evident in their recent tours to Australia and New Zealand.
Here, we look at two of the contenders to make India's World Cup squad - two wicket-keepers who are contrasting in many ways. One is a 21-year-old youngster and a swashbuckling left-hander, while the other is a 33-year-old veteran, a thoughtful right-hander. But one thing in common to both is that they have remained in the shadows of a certain MS Dhoni.
The southpaw Rishabh Pant, who made his international debut in 2017, is being considered as the future once MS, who is 37 years old, calls it a day. As far as his form is concerned, the Delhi cricketer has performed in patches at the highest level but since his Test debut last year, he seems to have matured.
In the Test series in England last year, Pant slammed his maiden century in red-ball cricket for India, scoring a brisk 114 at the tail end of their long journey in the UK. Again in the last Test down under, Pant powered India to a massive 622 with his contribution of 159 off just 189 deliveries.
Dinesh Karthik, on the other hand, has been around the Indian cricket team since 2004 and has totally transformed as a batsman. Although his return in the Test arena hasn't been too fruitful, the capabilities he has shown in limited-overs cricket prove he deserves to be in the reckoning; the Nidahas Trophy final being a perfect example of the role he is expected to play in the ICC CWC 2019.
Considering that MS Dhoni has been irreplaceable as a wicket-keeper since his arrival, the challenge that DK faced was to emerge in the eyes of selectors as a specialist batsman, which he did, to return to the Indian team in 2017.
Let's have a look at their batting stats since 2017, the year when DK made an astonishing comeback in international cricket and the arrival of Pant at the highest level, after having previously represented India in the U19 World Cup.
Clearly, the numbers paint a rosy picture for Karthik, although he has been inconsistent. However, the reputation that Pant has garnered in such a short span, especially with two Test centuries outside Asia, cannot be disregarded. He is in the scheme of things simply for the impact that he creates with the bat in modern-day cricket.
Though Pant has been included over Karthik for the ongoing ODI series against Australia, it is perhaps to give him an extended run. With the IPL to come, the decision could go either way. It won't be wrong to say that the final choice will be made only after the T20 extravaganza.