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Posted at: Feb 12, 2019, 8:56 AM; last updated: Feb 12, 2019, 8:56 AM (IST)

Pant has given us healthy headache, says chief selector

Pant has given us healthy headache, says chief selector
With MS Dhoni certain to keep wickets, Rishabh Pant could play purely as a batsman in the World Cup. File photo

New Delhi, February 11

Rishabh Pant’s form is a “healthy headache” for India who are contemplating playing the 21-year-old wicketkeeper as a specialist batsman at this year’s World Cup, chief selector MSK Prasad has said. The T20 series in New Zealand illustrated India’s problem of plenty behind the stumps with MS Dhoni keeping and fellow glovesmen Dinesh Karthik and Pant playing as pure batsmen. Even though his batting prowess has been on the wane, Dhoni’s sharp glovework makes him India’s first-choice wicketkeeper in limited-overs cricket, while Karthik seems to have transformed himself into a fluent lower-order batsman.

Pant has played only three ODIs but his six-hitting prowess and stellar performance in India’s breakthrough Test series victory in Australia make him difficult to ignore as India chase their third 50-overs World Cup title in England. “Undoubtedly he (Pant) is in contention,” Prasad told a cricket website. “A healthy headache. The progression of Rishabh in the last one year is phenomenal across the formats. 

“What we actually felt is he needs a bit of maturity now, gain more experience. That is the reason we have included him in India A series wherever possible.”

All-rounder Vijay Shankar also gave a good account of himself both in the ODI and T20I series in New Zealand to stake claim to be part of the 20-player pool from which India would pick their final 15.

“In whatever opportunities he has got, Vijay Shankar has shown the skill set required at this level,” Prasad said of the 28-year-old middle-order batsman, who bowls medium pace. “We have been grooming him through India A tours in the last two years. But we will have to see where he can fit in the dynamics of this team.” India begin their World Cup campaign against South Africa at Southampton on June 5. — Reuters

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