After a lot of debates and deliberations, India finally handed young Rishabh Pant his World Cup debut in the match against England at Edgbaston. The left-hander was included in the India squad after Shikhar Dhawan was ruled out of World Cup with a thumb injury. Dhawan suffered a hairline fracture during his match-winning 117 against Australia at The Oval on June 9.
"He brings in a lot of fearlessness. There is a small boundary for him to play for. Once he gets to 20, then it's a different ball game," skipper Virat Kohli said at the toss. The young man had a great chance to stamp his authority over the game, but after a frenetic start, he was dismissed trying to up the ante and was caught brilliantly by Chris Woakes at the square leg boundary.
Pant at number 4 can be a long-term option and the management should give him a longer rope at that position. However, vice-captain Rohit Sharma was quite casual in his assessment of the young man batting at that position. He said he was not surprised at all when Pant walked in to bat at the number 4 position.
Pant had replaced Vijay Shankar in the squad
"No, not really because you all guys wanted Rishabh Pant to play right?, right from India, you were like where's Rishabh Pant, where's Rishabh Pant, there he is at No.4," Rohit Sharma responded in a hilarious manner when asked if he was surprised at the decision.
Rishabh Pant had replaced injured Vijay Shankar in India's playing XI against England. Vijay Shankar, who was backed as India's No.4 batsman, by chief selector MSK Prasad was ruled out of the match with a toe niggle as per captain Virat Kohli.
India's chase meandered along in the final few overs and Rohit said that the pitch had slowed down which made finding boundaries tough for MS Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav towards the back end of the innings.
"When Mahi and Kedar were batting, they were trying to hit (boundaries) but were not able to because of the slowness of the pitch," Rohit Sharma, who top-scored for India with 102, said after the team's first loss in the tournament.
He also said that the English bowlers were very good and they utilised the conditions brilliantly towards the end.
The 32-year-old opener said, "Towards the end, it got pretty slow. We got to give credit to the English team, they used the conditions very well."
"They mixed up their variations quite nicely and kept us guessing all through the game," he further added.