Rishabh Pant to Flies to England as a Backup: Wicket-keeper batsman Rishabh Pant will fly to England this week to join the Indian squad as a back-up for Shikhar Dhawan. Rishabh Pant was in the standbys during the announcement of India’s World Cup squad among four other players.
Shikhar Dhawan made headlines in the Australia game not only because of his century but also because of his thumb injury he sustained by a Nathan-Coulter Nile’s delivery. Later, reports had revealed that the thumb had gotten fractured, leading him to be ruled out of World Cup matches for three weeks.
The Indian Team Management has decided not to send Shikhar Dhawan back home and call for an official replacement as of now. As per the reports, Dhawan’s injury will be monitored by the medical team and it is also understood that India’s opening skipper might get fit to play in the latter half of the tournament. However, what’s confirmed is Dhawan will sit out in the game against New Zealand which is scheduled to happen on 13th June, and against Pakistan on Sunday at Old Trafford.
“Dhawan will be under observation, will take some time. Around 10th or 12th day (between June 19 to 21), we will know where he stands. We don’t want to rule out a precious player like Shikhar immediately, we’ll wait for 10-12 days,” India’s batting coach Sanjay Bangar told the media in Nottingham on Wednesday (June 11).
“KL (Rahul) moves to the top of the order, there are various options for the middle order. Vijay Shankar and a couple of others are options. Till 10 or 12 days, if and when replacement is required, it’s good to have a replacement player coming in (Rishabh Pant in this case) and practice with the team,” Bangar added.
Of late, Pant has been in a terrific run of form. The left-handed batsman helped Delhi Capitals reach the Qualifiers in the recently concluded Indian Premier League season 12. Pant scored as many as 488 runs in 16 matches at an average of 37.53. Rishabh Pant’s heroics in the eliminator match against Sunrisers Hyderabad was probably his best inning of IPL season 12. His knock 49 runs off 21 balls took the game away from Hyderabad as he guided Delhi to an emphatic 2 wicket-victory over SRH.
“The selection committee always had Pant in the scheme of things because he was very close to getting picked for the final 15. The selectors believe that he is a future Indian wicketkeeper in all formats. That’s why he was picked for India ‘A’ tour of West Indies to acclimatize him to the conditions in the Caribbean because the senior team will be touring there after the World Cup. Pant was training rigorously at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) as soon as the IPL got over. So, he is in prime condition and an ideal person to join the team,” a BCCI source said.
Perhaps, the sensational match-winning knocks he played in the IPL has earned him the call-up. And also with Pant being a middle-order batsman, he seems to be the ideal case to replace Shikhar if needed owing to India’s quest for number four position in the eleven. In addition to that, with Dhawan being the only left-hander in the squad, it was all the more necessary to include a left-handed middle-order batsman who could negate the effect of leg-spinners.
Rishabh Pant has played five ODIs for India, scoring as many as 93 runs at an average of 23.2. Pant, however, has made a significant impact in Test Cricket, having scored 696 runs in nine matches at an average of 49.7.