Both Pant, who has played five ODIs, and Karthik, who has 91 matches under his belt, have got equal opportunities [four innings] to showcase their talent in the last four ODI series that India have played
Rishabh Pant and Dinesh Karthik
As the MSK Prasad-headed selection committee meet today to pick India’s World Cup squad along with captain Virat Kohli and head coach Ravi Shastri, the debate between Rishabh Pant and Dinesh Karthik will be settled on merit and the team management’s preference for an experienced campaigner or young legs.
Both Pant, who has played five ODIs, and Karthik, who has 91 matches under his belt, have got equal opportunities [four innings] to showcase their talent in the last four ODI series that India have played.
Karthik was part of the series in Australia and New Zealand, where he managed to score 37 and 38 runs respectively. Pant played the two home series — v West Indies and Australia — scoring 41 and 52 runs respectively.
Surendra Bhave, who was part of the selection committee that picked India’s 2011 World Cup-winning team, felt Pant should make the cut. However, former India wicketkeeper Nayan Mongia, who kept in the 1996 and 1999 World Cups, preferred to have the experience of Karthik.
“Pant is a left-hander which will add variety to our batting order. I am a big fan of having a left-hander at the top and in the middle order. There is no comparison between the batting talent of Karthik or Pant. Pant has done well in Australia and his form also looks good,” Bhave told mid-day yesterday.
Mongia felt Pant can wait for a while. “There is no substitute for experience. Rishabh is of course very talented, very explosive, but he has time on his hands. Karthik has been around for some time, he has seen pressure situations. Anyway, it [World Cup] is not played in the subcontinent where you can hit through the line. You must have sound technique and need to spend some time in the middle. It’s a thin line between Pant and Karthik,” said Mongia.
As the debate rages for the second wicketkeeper’s slot, both Bhave and Mongia felt that KL Rahul can be considered as a back-up wicketkeeper. “If Rahul comes in the team, he can be a back-up for Dhoni. That will allow the selectors to either add a batsman or a bowler. KL is an absolute utility player, who can open or bat in the middle and keep wicket as well,” said Mongia.
However, when it came to the No. 4 slot debate, Mongia preferred to stick with Ambati Rayudu. “I would want five pure batsmen. Rayudu should bat at No. 4. We need somebody with sound technique in seaming conditions in England,” said Mongia.
Bhave’s choice was between Pant and Rahul for No. 4: “Rayudu has done well but his recent form is not so great. It should be either KL or Pant. In England, you should look at the eventuality of a bad start. For example, if the team score is 10-2, then you need to consider who is your best bat.”