Ravindra Jadeja’s injury ideally should have confirmed Rishabh Pant of a place in India’s playing XI. However, Dinesh Karthik’s form as a finisher combined with Pant’s tumbling numbers with the bat, forced the management to take a different route, making Axar Patel as the only left-hander in the top seven.
Former Indian star, Suresh Raina, however, has a differing opinion. Raina has backed the 25-year-old Pant to play in the T20 World Cup Down Under, calling him an ‘X-factor player’, and insisted that he would be important for India’s balance at the global tournament.
"He's an important player. He has done it (made runs previously) in Australia. He's scored hundreds there and won the Gabba Test for us. He's an X-factor because if you see from 1-6, there's no leftie batter. So, how they are going to use him, it's very important,” Raina told IANS.
He's a very good player and knows how to bat in pressure situations. Hopefully, the management must be thinking about how to bring him in. So, in one or two games, you could see him playing again," he added.
In Jasprit Bumrah’s absence, India’s hands are tied in the bowling department. However, Raina opined that Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s experience will really come in handy for the Men in Blue. The former CSK star also added that Bhuvneshwar knows the line and length that works well in Australia, making him an integral part of the Indian setup.
“Bhuvi is an experienced bowler. He has done really well. Sometimes you go for runs, but he still has that swing. He is still the go-to guy for the skipper because he always delivers when it mattered the most. When Virat scored a hundred, he also took five wickets against Afghanistan and bowled really well. He has that knuckleball, swing and he hits areas well,” Raina added.
“Once you get that line and length, he knows how to execute those plans and he will do really well there because Australian conditions will give his knuckleball and variations help. Alongside Arshdeep and Harshal, Bhuvi will help them with his extra experience and will do really well for India.”
India will kick-off their T20 World Cup campaign against arch-rivals, Pakistan, on October 23 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.