Sanjay Manjrekar feels Rishabh Pant is still searching for the perfect formula as a batter in T20I cricket. He thereby wants Dinesh Karthik to play ahead of the youngster in India's Asia Cup 2022 Super 4 clash against Sri Lanka in Dubai on Tuesday, September 6.
Pant was left out of India's playing XI for their Asia Cup opener against Pakistan, with Karthik donning the wicketkeeping gloves. However, with Ravindra Jadeja getting ruled out of the tournament due to a knee injury, the Indian team preferred to play him in the Super 4 clash against the same opponents to have a left-hander in the middle order.
During an interaction on the Sports 18 show 'Sports Over the Top', Manjrekar was asked whether he felt it was time to bring back Karthik. He responded:
"Rishabh Pant has become a very interesting case. Rishabh Pant is still searching for that perfect formula to become an impact player. There is no doubting his Test match credentials. This guy has already played three, if not four, all-time great Indian innings. So, potentially he could end up being an Indian Test batting great."
Manjrekar pointed out that Pant's limited-overs numbers are in sharp contrast to his exploits in Test cricket. The former India batter explained:
"White-ball cricket - I don't know what's happening. For example, his T20I record - average of 20 and strike rate of 120. This is Rishabh Pant that we are talking about. In fact, in Test cricket, he bats at the same strike rate."
Pant managed just 14 runs off 12 deliveries in Sunday's Super 4 game against Pakistan. He threw away his wicket by playing a predetermined reverse sweep off Shadab Khan's bowling when he was required to build a partnership with Virat Kohli.
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"Dinesh Karthik gets my vote" - Sanjay Manjrekar prefers veteran keeper to Rishabh Pant
Manjrekar feels Karthik is a better option than Pant in the lower-middle order. He elaborated:
"Dinesh Karthik, in comparison, average of about 28 and a strike close to 139.9. So there is something Dinesh Karthik is doing right of late. Especially if India is looking for a batter down the order and if they have a choice between Dinesh Karthik and Rishabh Pant, on current form, I think Dinesh Karthik gets my vote."
Manjrekar concluded by observing that India might have posted a bigger total against Pakistan if the Tamil Nadu wicketkeeper-batter was in the XI. The cricketer-turned-analyst said:
"That will also allow India to have Hooda bat up the order. Everyone can bat up and Dinesh Karthik can take that role of that specialist cameo player for the last three-four overs. I am just imagining a scenario if he was batting against Pakistan down the order, who knows what could have happened."
Karthik was part of the Indian XI for their two Group A matches against Pakistan and Hong Kong. However, he got to play just one delivery across the two games, taking a single to give Hardik Pandya the strike to hit the winning blow against the Men in Green.
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