World Cup 2019: Should Rishabh Pant jump the queue?

Updated: Jun 21, 2019, 14:07 IST | Santosh Suri

It's something that the Indian team management should mull over while finalising the playing XI for tomorrow's game against Afghanistan

World Cup 2019: Should Rishabh Pant jump the queue?
India's Rishabh Pant stretches during a training session at the Hampshire Bowl in Southampton yesterday

Southampton: It wouldn't be a bad idea for India to throw Rishabh Pant at the deep end when they take on Afghanistan in a World Cup match here on Saturday. But that decision will take some courage, especially as Vijay Shankar has done well in the only game he has played while Kedar Jadhav has not got a decent opportunity in three matches so far. Besides, the captain and coach would be reluctant to disturb a winning combination unless forced by injuries.

Pant has been with the team for over a week now and has also batted in the nets. However, it is difficult to see him getting a game immediately. It would be more like jumping the queue with Dinesh Karthik waiting in the wings since the start of the tournament.

One thing that goes in favour of Pant is that he is a clean hitter of a cricket ball and has similar capabilities to what England skipper Eoin Morgan has as a batsman. The way Morgan thrashed the hapless Afghanistan bowling the other day, could well be tempting for the Indian think-tank to try out left-handed Pant in the match against Afghanistan and neutralise the threat posed by leg-spinners Rashid Khan and Mujeeb-ur-Rahman.

Kohli has always stressed that the players on the bench have been trained to be mentally prepared to be ready for any eventuality. “All the 15 players in the squad know their role in the team. Even when they are waiting patiently on the sidelines, they are aware and mentally prepared to take on any challenge. Nothing is going to come as a surprise to them. And that’s what has been crucial as far as planning is concerned for the World Cup.”

Going by the team’s plan, there is no doubt that Pant will not be caught napping if and when he gets his chance. Also, he will have the think-tank’s backing to go in the middle and express himself without inhibition or fear.

India has had their share of injuries that have upset not only the balance but also the plans of the team. Though they have shown tremendous resilience and come out well despite being handicapped by injuries, it would not be a bad idea to try out Pant against Afghanistan and keep him battle ready for tougher matches ahead.

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