Shane Warne suggests Rishabh Pant as opening partner to Rohit Sharma
Former Australia leg-spinner Shane Warne, who is renowned for his quirky predictions as a cricket pundit, has come up with an interesting suggestion for the Indian team ahead of their limited-overs series against Australia.
“It could be worth throwing Rishabh Pant at the top of the order for a couple of games and see how he goes. Maybe against Australia now and experiment and see how he goes for the World Cup. Dhawan may have a role to play somewhere else. But I am really looking forward to seeing what India have because they have a lot of players who can do a lot of roles,” Warne told India Today.
The 21-year-old Pant has had a stop-start limited-overs career, and has been in the shadows of MS Dhoni, who continues to be the first-choice wicket-keeper in the shorter formats. Warne, however, believes that both can co-exist in the team, with Pant being tried out as a specialist batsman.
“There has been talk if Rishabh Pant can play in the side. I think (MS) Dhoni and Pant both can play. I can’t see why Rishabh Pant can’t play as a batsman, he is outstanding".
Bringing Pant at the top of the order is what, Warne believes, could the X-factor for India going into the World Cup.
“Maybe even open the batting with Rohit Sharma. I know Shikhar Dhawan does a great job but Rishabh Pant opening the batting with Rohit Sharma could be pretty cool too for India. Go with some of these X-factor type things and tactical battles, where you surprise the opposition.”
While Pant's blistering exploits at the top are well documented in domestic cricket and IPL, Warne's suggestion could be harsh on Dhawan, who has been India's preferred choice for a long time. Known for his ability to rise to the occasion during big events, Dhawan was in fine form during the last two major 50-over tournaments - the Champions Trophy in 2017, and the Asia Cup last year.