16 years after his maiden T20I appearance for India, Dinesh Karthik put on a splendid act against South Africa in Rajkot on Friday to score his first ever half-century in the format which helped the hosts win by an emphatic margin of 82 runs and subsequently level the series. Amid Karthik’s ravishing form in this ongoing series, Rishabh Pant, who has also been leading the Indian side, has shown signs of struggle. This has led to a freshly brewing debate on who should India pick for the T20 World Cup?
When veterans had backed the 36-year-old star following his phenomenal show in IPL 2022, the primary question pertained to India’s primary wicketkeeping choice. Pant has maintained the role post 2019 ODI World Cup with KL Rahul taking over for a brief period. Lately, the team has seen the addition of Ishan Kishan and Sanju Samson. Karthik hence had to show his utmost skill to help India better at the area that troubled them for long – the lower middle order.
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In four innings so far in the series, Karthik has scored 92 runs at a strike rate of 158.6 and with a boundary rate of 3.8 balls. In the death overs, he has smashed 84 runs at a strike rate of 186.7 with a boundary every 3.2 balls. Pant, on the other hand, has scored 57 runs in four innings at a strike rate of just 105.6.
When asked on ESPNCricinfo if Karthik triumphs Pant, as of now, for the T20 World Cup squad, South Africa legend Dale Steyn, without much thinking, replied saying, “Yes definitely.”
“Pant has had four opportunities now in this series and he seems to be making the same mistake. Also you could say that good players learn from their mistakes…but he hasn’t. And DK has come up just every single time and shown what a class player he is. I think if you want to win World Cups, you pick a guy who is in form that guy is going to win you the World Cup. If he is in a purple patch and is red hot, you pick that guy. Teams will pick on reputation but DK is in such fantastic form, and if he continues he will be one of the first names written down on the plane when India tour for the World Cup,” he explained.
Steyn as also all praise for Karthik’s knock of 27-ball 55 against South Africa on Friday.
“DK has been in phenomenal form, looks like he is getting better and better. He has that great wicket-keeping mentality, reads the game very well. He knows and understands what bowlers are going to do and he backs it up really well with good skill.”