India have had given Rishabh Pant a long rope in the shortest format of the game, without much rewards. In fact, the left-hander has played 62 T20Is for the country, where he averages 24, striking at just 127, which is starkly different from his numbers for the Delhi Capitals in the Indian Premier League.
Dinesh Karthik’s resurgence as a finisher, gave the selectors a prime choice for striking the right balance for the Indian setup. However, former Indian cricketer Gautam Gambhir wasn’t pleased with the decision, saying that he would rather prefer Pant at No.5, over Karthik.
“In my playing XI, Rishabh Pant should play at No.5, Hardik Pandya at no.6, and Axar Patel at no.7. But what we have seen in the practice matches, Dinesh Karthik will play. But a player is not picked to play just 10 balls. You should pick a player so that he can bat at No.5 or 6,” Gambhir told Zee.
Gambhir also insisted that Pant would be the right choice if India lose quick wickets in a crunch situation. India’s only left-handed option in the batting line-up is Axar Patel, who hasn’t shown his batting prowess thus far in T20Is.
“But Dinesh Karthik has not shown that intention. He and the team management have show the intention that he will bat only in the last 2-3 overs and that can be dangerous because in Australia, if you lose early wickets, you might have to send in Axar Patel early because you also wouldn't want to expose Hardik early. That is why I picked Pant in my playing XI. But again that won't happen,” he explained.
On the bowling front, Gambhir joined the likes of Tom Moody amidst others, to opt for Mohammed Shami in the playing XI alongside Harshal Patel and Hardik Pandya as the fourth-choice pace option. For the second bowling option, however, Gambhir wants it to be a battle between Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Arshdeep Singh – one offering pace and bounce and the other truckload of experience.
“You will have to play with three pacers. Mohammed Shami should be picked first, before Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Arshdeep Singh and Harshal Patel. Hardik Pandya will be the fourth seamer and the sixth bowling option," he added.
"The quality Shami has...we know he is very effective with the new ball, but with the old ball, which we all saw in the match against Australia. So Shami first. One between Bhuvneshwar and Arshdeep should be picked. Harshal should be picked because he does have some experience bowling in the death."