Former Indian cricketer Saba Karim believes the selectors should bring Punjab Kings (PBKS) wicket-keeper Jitesh Sharma into India's T20 setup amid a bad patch for Rishabh Pant and Ishan Kishan. He hailed the Vidarbha cricketer for his impressive performances in his maiden IPL season.
Speaking to India News on Wednesday, Saba Karim said:
“Jitesh Sharma. He plays for Vidarbha. His performance is very good. He also plays for Punjab Kings. He has impressed in IPL. There are a lot of wicket-keeper batters. They should get a chance.”
“No wicket-keeper comes into the limelight with his keeping. Everyone looks for batting prowess, which is given importance. It’s demand in T20 cricket.”
When questioned whether KL Rahul can play the full-time wicket-keeper's role, the former India selector replied that he first needs to fit in as a batter in the XI.
“If you talk about KL Rahul [as a wicket-keeper], selectors will have to check whether he fits as a batter in the team.”
The statement comes after Rahul failed to deliver against big teams – Pakistan, South Africa and England – at the T20 World Cup, scoring four, nine and five runs, respectively. His half-centuries came against lower-ranked Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. He has been rested for the ongoing white-ball tour of New Zealand.
Jitesh, meanwhile, hogged the limelight in his debut season for PBKS, i.e., in IPL 2022. The 29-year-old scored 234 runs in 12 games at an impressive strike rate of 163.64. He also looked promising behind the stumps, inflicting 11 dismissals.
Wicket-keeper batters Pant and Ishan Kishan, on the other hand, failed to deliver as openers after India entered a new transition phase in T20Is following their T20 World Cup exit. The duo scored 17 and 46 runs, respectively, in two innings against New Zealand.
Pant's and Kishan's performances in 2022 at a glance:
Rishabh Pant - 364 runs in 21 innings @21.41 (One fifty)
Ishan Kishan – 476 runs in 16 innings @29.75 (three half-centuries)
“He has got plenty of opportunities” – Saba Karim on Rishabh Pant
Karim also feels that Rishabh Pant wouldn’t have failed again and again if India had not experimented with his batting positions in T20Is. He, however, was quick to point out that the wicket-keeper batter has been provided enough opportunities and his repeated failures in the shortest format have now become a hot topic of discussion.
Speaking on the same show, Karim said:
“Rishabh Pant has been tried at different positions because he has failed to deliver on those particular spots. The team management still believes he has an incredible talent to perform in T20 cricket.”
“This situation wouldn't have arrived if they had played him in a particular position. He has got plenty of opportunities. I think it’s time for a lot of discussions."
Pant failed to deliver as an opener in the recently concluded T20I series against New Zealand, scoring six and 11 runs in two innings. Earlier, he registered single-digit scores at the No. 6 and 5 spots during the T20 World Cup.
It is worth mentioning that Pant has played in five different positions in his T20I career; check below:
As an opener – 71 runs in five innings
No. 3 – 117 runs in six innings
No.4 – 474 runs in 27 innings (Two fifties)
No. 5 – 297 runs in 15 innings (One half-century)
No. 6 – 28 runs in three innings