Former India skipper Sunil Gavaskar made a massive prediction about Hardik Pandya, Rishabh Pant and Dinesh Karthik for India’s XI ahead of its blockbuster clash against Pakistan at the T20 World Cup on Sunday.
In the T20 World Cup, Team India have two quality wicketkeeping options in Rishabh Pant and Dinesh Karthik. However, only one is likely to take the field come October 23, when the side takes on arch-rivals Pakistan in its opening game at the marquee tournament. In the past few matches in the lead-up to the World Cup, Karthik was preferred for his ‘finisher’ role over Pant. Many are also of the opinion that Pant should be given a spot in the XI as he remains the only left-hander who can bat in the top five.
Amid the wave of predictions about India’s playing XI against Pakistan, former India captain Sunil Gavaskar has backed both Pant and Karthik to play together if all-rounder Hardik Pandya can shoulder the responsibility of fifth bowler.
“It’s just that maybe, if they decide to go with six bowlers, with Hardik Pandya being the sixth bowler, then he (Pant) may not be able to find a place,” Gavaskar said on Star Sports show ‘Cricket Live’.
“But if they decide to go with Hardik Pandya as the fifth bowler, then Rishabh Pant has an opportunity to bat at number six and Karthik maybe at number seven, followed by the four bowlers. So, that could well happen. We just have to wait and see.
“They would certainly want a left-hander in the middle, but looking at the top four, who are in such good form, you sometimes say to yourself, ‘How many overs is Rishabh Pant going to get in? Is he going to get three or four overs? And for three or four overs, is Karthik or Rishabh better? So, these are all the situations they will look at and they’ll take a call on this,” Gavaskar explained.
Gavaskar also talked about Pakistan’s star pacer Shaheen Afridi who had wreaked havoc on Team India during the T20 World Cup last year. He said that Shaheen bowled well against Afghanistan in the warm-up match and seems to be back to full fitness.
”I think that’s what their main concern was, about his fitness and how he would shape up. And certainly, in the two overs that he bowled, he’s shown that he’s back to full fitness.So, clearly, that is one headache gone. I think with their catching, they were much better than what we saw against England,” said Gavaskar.
”Their ground fielding was very good. So, these are two aspects that were worrying them and they have shown improvement in those areas. So, I don’t think they’ll have any questions when they’ll take on India on Sunday,” concluded the former India cricketer.