Hardik Pandya-led India will meet New Zealand in the 1st T20I on Friday. Wasim Jaffer feels wicketkeeper-batter Rishabh Pant should open the innings for the visitors in the shortest format.
Underachievers at the grandest stage of them all, World Cup 2022 semi-finalists India and New Zealand will resume their T20I rivalry from Friday. Already missing the services of Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and KL Rahul, Team India has their task cut out in the three-match T20I series against hosts New Zealand. Under the leadership of all-rounder Hardik Pandya, the VVS Laxman-coached side will square off against Kane Williamson and Co. in the 1st T20I at the Sky Stadium on Friday.
With youngsters tasked to fill the void of seasoned campaigners, India are expected to introduce a new opening batting pair for the series opener. Even though Shubman Gill and Ishan Kishan are roped in as designated openers, former Indian opener Wasim Jaffer feels wicketkeeper-batter Rishabh Pant should open the proceedings for the visitors in the shortest format.
“I don’t think Rishabh has batted there (finisher). He has batted at No. 4 or No. 5 even for the Delhi Capitals, but those places are sealed by Surya and Hardik. I feel that when the field is up and if Rishabh Pant gets going then he is a dangerous player. His best position is at the top of the order.” Jaffer told ESPNCricinfo ahead of the 1st T20I between India and New Zealand.
Predicting India’s playing XI for the series opener against the Black Caps, the ex-Indian opener opined that Pant is one such individual who can provide India with a blistering start. Pant was overlooked by the Indian think at the T20 World Cup in Australia. “Once he gets a start and is 20-30 not out in the powerplay then he is dangerous. Then even if the fielders are out, it doesn’t matter to him. But when he comes to bat at No. 5, the field is already out and the pressure is on him. It is difficult for him to hit sixes straightaway. He is such a player from whom you can expect a blistering start,” Jaffer added.
Wasim Jaffer’s Indian XI for 1st T20I vs New Zealand:
Shubman Gill, Rishabh Pant (WK), Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya (C), Deepak Hooda, Washington Sundar, Harshal Patel, Kuldeep Yadav/Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohammed Siraj, Arshdeep Singh