World Cup 2019: Rishabh Pant should be in XI, says Farokh Engineer
Manchester-based ex-player Farokh Engineer wants Rishabh to play alongside Dhoni against WI today; says Delhi batsman will be an asset at No. 6 or No. 7
Manchester: For Farokh Engineer, coming to the Old Trafford is like visiting the Brabourne Stadium during his playing days. The Manchester-based former India stumper is a regular at one of England's oldest cricket venues. "I know every blade of grass here. This is my homeground," Engineer tells mid-day with pride. On the eve of the India v West Indies match, Engineer speaks to mid-day about India's unbeaten run, the West Indies attack and why Rishabh Pant should be in the playing XI.
On the scare Afghanistan gave India last week:
A wake-up call came at the right time. Over here, there are no easy matches. Even Afghanistan and Bangladesh are good teams as they have qualified for the World Cup. We are on a roll and we should be on a roll. Our confidence should be high, but we shouldn't be complacent. I thought we were a bit complacent against Afghanistan and that's why it was such a close game.
On the West Indian challenge today:
They can easily spring a surprise. It is an important game for us. Andre Russell has been replaced and it is big blow for the West Indies. He is terrific cricketer.
On Pant being added to the Indian squad:
I am so glad that he is in the squad. We had a good and long chat. He was so happy that told me, 'Sir, you have told me things that nobody has told me before'. I told him to listen to everybody, but try out things on your own and see what suits you best — don't just follow anyone blindly, not even me. Although I know what I am talking about, he told me he has 100 per cent faith in what I told him because it made so much sense. It was about different aspects, especially leg-side gathering. I don't want to discuss his weaknesses in public. It won't be fair. I suggested different ways to do it and he said it was an eye-opener for him.
On whether Pant should be in the XI:
He reminds me of myself – his exuberance, enthusiasm and love for wicketkeeping. I had said the same thing to Dhoni also when he had first come to England – that is a much better wicketkeeper than what he was when he started. His batting has got a lot more defensive. I guess, he is playing this way for the team. I often joke with him and tell him, 'don't leave it too late, because if you block for so long, and when you get out, your side is in a complete mess.' It makes it doubly worse for the team.
On whether Pant should replace Dhoni:
I don't think Rishabh should replace Dhoni, but there is a case to play Pant in the XI with Dhoni. Look at Jos Buttler and young Jonny Bairstow, they both are very good wicketkeepers and both are in the team. I would like to see Pant batting at six or seven. Of course, it all depends on the situation — if we have a very good opening stand.
On the conditions at Old Trafford:
Old Trafford is a great pitch. It gives batsmen, bowlers and spinners an equal chance. Pakistan won the toss and put India in. They did the right thing because Virat Kohli would have done the same. In the first hour, there is certainly a lot of moisture and movement. That goes to show how well our openers played. Rohit [Sharma] was lucky as that an inside edge went for four. India are very good at chasing totals. If we can restrict the opposition to 250, we are in a good position. But anything above that, we are going to put a lot of pressure on ourselves. We have a very good bowling attack with the No. 1 bowler in Jasprit Bumrah. Look at Mohammed Shami. He plays in place of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and picks up a hat-trick. Are you going to drop Shami if Bhuvneshwar is fit? It is a happy headache to have. This headache can be an asset to us.
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