After the selectors named India’s 15-member squad for the upcoming World Cup in England on Monday, 15 April, the inclusion of Dinesh Karthik over Rishabh Pant hogged all the headlines. Apart from the Karthik versus Pant selection row, another notable inclusion was that of Vijay Shankar, who, most believed, edged out Ambati Rayudu for the number four spot in the batting line-up.
However, Indian speedster Irfan Pathan had a different opinion. According to him, due to his inconsistency, Rayudu lost his WC spot to Dinesh Karthik.
"“There was a point when Rayudu had a spot for himself; when he scored 90 against New Zealand, after which he derailed. If Rayudu would have continued to perform, we wouldn’t have seen DK.”" - Irfan Pathan
Pathan hailed Vijay Shankar for making full use of the opportunities made available to him despite Rayudu being one of the strongest contenders for the number four spot for the longest period prior to the IPL.
"“Before IPL, India has played many series, and whenever he (Vijay Shankar) has been part of the squad he has performed well, and this was noticed by the selectors.”" - Irfan Pathan
As far as choosing between Kathik and Pant was concerned for the second wicket keeping option, Pathan backed Dinesh Karthik as the right candidate. He seconded the selection committee’s point to justify Karthik’s selection.
"“It’s clearly spoken about that if MS Dhoni gets injured then who can handle the pressure, the name that comes is Dinesh Karthik. When we talk about Rishabh Pant, it’s about him being a young player, and that he is perfect for 6th or 7th spot. But when we talk about World Cup, Dinesh Kartik has experience, and that’s why the selectors have chosen him.”" - Irfan Pathan
Chief selector MSK Prasad had also reiterated that in the end it was Karthik’s experience against Pant’s inexperience, which tilted them in favour of the Tamil Nadu batsman.
Apart from these two high-profile announcements, the squad was on expected lines, with Virat Kohli leading the side and Rohit Sharma being named his deputy.
Pathan says he believes India are going to England with the right combination for batsmen and bowlers, which makes them the favourites to make it to the final and even win the cup.
"“There is quality in the team and all the players who have been selected seem to be in good form. If you look at the spin bowlers, it has the best with top-quality capability one can ask to be part of the WC squad. All our bowlers have proved that they have the ability of taking wicket in the beginning and death over.”" - Irfan Pathan
“Same goes for our batsmen who are in great form to put big score on the board. All these points put together makes India favourite to win or play the finals,” Pathan added.
Pathan also highlighted the importance of Jasprit Bumrah in the English conditions and how the Mumbai Indians pacer will be Virat Kohli’s ‘trump card’ in England.
“He is going to be very crucial in the death overs because in England they have two balls. In 50 overs there is a new ball from both the ends. There is not a lot of reverse that you get to see. So, when it doesn’t reverse it’s important to bowl good yorkers. Bumrah has the quality, action and pace. The way he takes a wicket in the end will be very crucial,” said Pathan.
According to Pathan, a lot depends on the duo of Kohli and Bumrah.
“More than a new ball I would give more importance to him. He is our trump card. His world cup and Virat Kohli’s world cup needs to go well because our success depends on that,” Pathan concluded.
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