On Wednesday evening, BCCI team manager Sunil Subramanian addressed the media to announce that Shikhar Dhawan is ruled out of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 due to fracture and Rishabh Pant, who has already flown-in as a cover, will replace him in the squad officially.
After all the talks around not selecting him in the initial squad, Pant has finally joined the squad due to an unfortunate injury sustained by Dhawan. It is still debatable whether Pant will be drafted into playing eleven straightaway. But Pant should definitely be added to the playing eleven in the latter part of the world cup campaign.
Considering the fact that our openers cannot be expected to be aggressive in all matches in the absence of Dhawan, an aggressive player in middle order might just be what the team needs at the moment. Pant’s ability to up the run rate quickly in the middle overs will give ample time for Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul to play themselves in. Since there’s no left handed batsmen in the top seven, a middle order left hand batsman will be handy as well.
He can be the floating number four that Rahul played in first two matches. On a given day, Pant can light up the tournament and tear apart any attack in a matter of few overs. This will also give us a great opportunity to play both Hardik Pandya and Pant together in the middle order. It might help us to dominate bowling attacks like England and West Indies where we might have to put up or chase 350 plus totals.
It was evident that India struggled to finish strongly against Pakistan India after Pandya and MS Dhoni got out. Playing Pant at number four can give more depth to the batting line up to finish strongly in death overs. Not to forget the fact Pant has Test Centuries in England and Australia under tough conditions against likes of Anderson, Broad, Hazlewood, Starc and Cummins.
Who knows, like Suresh Raina in 2011, Rishabh Pant might just rise up to the occasion and be that game-changer for Team India in the knockout stages of the tournament.