When the Indian selectors announced India's 15-member World Cup squad, a lot of eyebrows were furrowed and a lot of opinions were strewn around when Rishabh Pant's name was not in the side. Many former cricketers said that his explosiveness in the middle order is something which India will miss and something which India should have utilised.
Now, with the injury to Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant is in India's World Cup squad, he was part of their training session, he was very boisterous in and around the group, but does he fit into India's playing XI against Afghanistan?
There is MS Dhoni behind the stumps, which means that Pant will have to play as a specialist batsman. Also, KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma formed a potent opening pair in the match against Pakistan, hence, the left-hander will have to be slotted in the middle order. Will the number four slot be given to him ahead of Vijay Shankar?
Shankar's place looks fairly secured
Shankar did his credentials no harm at all with a couple of wickets against Pakistan and hence, Kohli would love to have him as another bowling option. However, Pant is a left-hander, the sole one in the middle order and he can be quite handy in nullifying the threat of the wrist spinners, especially against Afghanistan. The only spot which then opens for him is Kedar Jadhav's number six spot. Will the management bit the bullet and draft him there.
Along with Hardik Pandya, Rishabh Pant can be quite a sight if they get going in the final phase of the innings. He has shown good temperament in his short international career. In the IPL, where he batted in the middle order, he gave a good account of himself as he took the games deep and tried to finish them off, a trait which can come in handy for India in these matches.
"It is a dream for all to make India win. When I came to know that I have been called to England as a back-up, my mother was with me. So I told her, she went to the temple and paid her offerings. As a cricketer, I always wanted to play a World Cup and perform there and now that I have got this opportunity, I am feeling very happy," Pant told Yuzvendra Chahal in a video posted by the BCCI.
One might argue that the game against Afghanistan is an opportunity for Virat Kohli to experiment. Will the skipper look to be more flexible and throw in his rookie X-factor and see how he responds in a high-pressure scenario. Vijay Shankar's place looks fairly settled, will Kedar Jadhav be the guy to miss out against Afghanistan, we have to wait and watch.