ICC World Cup 2019: Will Rishabh Pant make it into the squad?
The swashbuckling wicket-keeper batsman for India in Tests and T20s - Rishabh Pant waltz into the scene in the IPL and since then the 21-year old expert 'babysitter' has taken giant strides in international cricket. The amount of exposure that Pant got playing in England and Australia has helped him improve his keeping and batting skills both.
With close to 700 runs in his first 9 matches with a couple of centuries and half-centuries, the fearless southpaw is off to a dream start in 5-day cricket. His consistency and hunger to perform on the international stage is overwhelming but has made the selection committee's job a bit difficult.
Until India's tour of Australia, Pant was not a very strong contender for the flight to England - ICC World Cup 2019. But his performance in the Australia tour where he thrashed the bowling with his pyrotechnics and shattered wicket-keeping records has led to a fresh debate amongst the cricket aficionados on his inclusion in the World Cup squad.
Pant is currently playing for the India A team against the England Lions. He played a match-winning knock in his very first match of the series scoring an unbeaten 73 to guide the team to a fourth consecutive win over the Lions.
The dogged Pant is leaving no stone unturned to get that England ticket.
In an Interview to IndiaToday, chairman of selector MSK Prasad informed that Pant is very much a part of India's World Cup plans and that all the three short-listed wicket-keepers are performing well.
Having said that, the following factors may prove to be an impediment to his entry into the side.
# MS Dhoni and Dinesh Karthik are in great form
Dhoni seems to be enjoying his new role of anchoring the innings and is at his supreme best, winning matches for India. Karthik too has never failed to impress whenever provided with an opportunity. Batting at no. 5 he provides that necessary depth to the middle-order. He is also a fantastic wicket-keeper to have as a backup.
# Hardik Pandya and Kedar Jadhav as finishers
Pant normally plays at the no. 6 or no.7 position as a powerful and hard-hitting finisher. The pocket-sized powerhouse is extremely good at these batting positions but they are currently taken by Jadhav and Pandya.
Jadhav an astute cricketer is known for his flawless placement while batting and has a knack of chipping in with crucial wickets with his quirky bowling. Hardik, on the other hand, plays the role of an explosive batsman and an important first-change medium pace bowler.
Both of them have cemented their place in the side with their all-around abilities.
# Not the right time to experiment
Since July last year, India has played bilateral ODI series against England, West Indies, Australia and New Zealand, along with the Asia Cup with pretty much the same set of players and has been in marauding form.
The decision of not being too experimental in terms of team selection has reaped rich fruits for India as the team seems to have jelled well and the players too, feel settled going into the mega tournament.
Tinkering with such a stable unit where the role of each player is clearly defined is like playing with fire and can disturb the balance of the side.
Pant is an exceedingly good player and undoubtedly the future star of Indian cricket but the chances of him getting into World Cup 2019 squad are 50-50 considering the above factors. The squad for Australia's tour of India in the coming weeks will make things crystal clear as that would pretty much be the final team that would go into the World Cup.