Dinesh Karthik preferred over Rishabh Pant due to superior wicket-keeping skills, says chief selector MSK Prasad

It was a toss up between Dinesh Karthik and Rishabh Pant for the reserve wicketkeeper slot. (File image)

India on Monday became the third team after New Zealand and Australia to announce their squad for the upcoming ICC World Cup that will be held in England and Wales. Dinesh Karthik has taken up the reserve wicketkeeper slot and could also be a potential number 4, along with Vijay Shankar. The position has been an Achilles’ heel for the selectors for some time now and Ambati Rayudu, who played in that position in most of India’s recent ODI matches, has missed out.

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Rishabh Pant, who has been India’s regular wicketkeeper in Tests in the absence of Wriddhiman Saha, is another absentee and chairman of selectors MSK Prasad explained that Karthik was chosen due to his superior wicketkeeping skills. "The situation that was discussed among the selection committee, one of them will play in the XI provided MS is injured," Prasad in the press conference after the squad was announced. "So under such situations, in crunch matches, who is the best guy who can handle the pressure? That is the reason that went in favour of Dinesh Karthik. Pant is full of talent. There's a lot of time for him. It's just unfortunate that he's missed out. Under pressure, we have seen Dinesh Karthik finishing matches. That scored for him."

Prasad said that Vijay Shankar, an all-rounder, provides a "three-dimensional" option to Ambati Rayudu in the number 4 position. "After the (2017) Champions Trophy, we tried quite a few people in that position. We did give a few more chances to Rayudu. Vijay Shankar is three dimensional. We are looking at him at no. 4 to begin with. We also have Dinesh Karthik and Kedar Jadhav. It’s not that anything that went against (Rayudu), it’s that a few things went for (Vijay Shankar)."

KL Rahul has also found a place in the squad and Prasad said that he will be a reserve opener for Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan. "To begin with KL will be reserve opener, if need arises the team management will take a call," he said.

Vijay Shankar’s all-round abilities has helped him pip Ambati Rayudu. (Source: AP/File)

Ravindra Jadeja has taken the third spinner’s slot after wrist spin duo Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal. Jasprit Bumrah is expected to lead the pace battery that can include all-rounder Hardik Pandya, Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

The World Cup starts on May 30, 2019 with hosts England playing South Africa in the opener. India’s first match will also be against South Africa and will be played on June 5.