Dinesh Karthik continued his dream run to remind selectors of his finish prowess as the senior batter led India to a series-levelling 82-run victory over South Africa in the fourth Twenty20 on Friday. The 37-year-old Karthik smashed 55 off 27 deliveries to guide India to 169 for six, which was defended comfortably by Indian bowlers who rode Avesh Khan’s best T20 figures of 4-18. (Also Read | ‘He won’t play T20 WC. But India should definitely consider him for 2023 World Cup’: Nehra’s big prediction for IND star)
While it was a near-perfect game for the hosts, who set up a series decider in Bengaluru, stand-in skipper Rishabh Pant perished early once again. The 24-year-old stumper tried to hit a Keshav Maharaj delivery that would have been a wide. Pant has registered scores of 29, 5, 6 and 17, falling in a similar fashion thrice in the ongoing T20 assignment.
With Karthik’s emergence in the T20 format, it remains to be seen whether the selectors persist with Pant if he returns lowly scores in the long run. Former Pakistan tweaker Danish Kaneria has also slammed the Indian’s mediocre showing, saying the team management needs to explore other options as well.
He proposed the name of Wriddhiman Saha, who enjoyed a stellar run with Gujarat Titans in the recently-concluded IPL season. Kaneria also wants to see Karthik or KS Bharat behind the sticks.
“India have got a nice team combination with better understanding between players. Karthik and Hardik have been performing consistently but Ruturaj and Ishan haven’t been able to do it. Also, Pant needs to improve his batting. India have also got KS Bharat. I also don’t see any problem in bringing in Wriddhiman Saha. Just give a break to Rishabh Pant. Saha was excellent for Gujarat Titans in the IPL. Also, Karthik can keep the wickets. We saw that during his time with Royal Challengers Bangalore,” said Kaneria on his YouTube channel.
“Pant can be rested to bring in a player who can bat well in the middle order. Rohit, Virat, Suryakumar, and Rahul will return to the team soon… and Pant’s place will under major threat. Pant is an immense talent but he’s wasting it. The selection committee and management need to talk with Pant if they want to move on. That’s a possibility after the ongoing series,” he further added.
Legendary Sunil Gavaskar was also critical of Pant, who yet again chased a wide delivery that was way outside the off-stump. Pant has been finding it tough with the bat, managing to score just 57 runs in four games so far.
“He hasn’t learned. He hasn’t learned from his previous three dismissals. They throw wide, and he keeps going for it. He can’t throw enough muscle on that. He has got to stop looking to go aerial that far outside the off-stump,” said Gavaskar during his commentary stint on Star Sports.
“10 times, he has been dismissed wide outside off-stump. Some of them would’ve been called wide if he hadn’t made contact with it. Because he’s so far away, he has to reach out for it. He will never get enough power on it. To keep getting out in the same series in the same manner, for a captain of the Indian team, that’s not a good sign,” he added.