The Twenty20 series against South Africa ended Sunday in a 2-2 draw but for India, the home assignment still had a lot of positives including Dinesh Karthik’s blistering show. Fresh from a highly successful IPL season with Royal Challengers Bangalore, the senior batter continued his dream run to make a strong case for himself before this year’s T20 World Cup, while Rishabh Pant struggled with runs in his first-ever spell as India captain. (Also Read | ‘If they had to pick me, after my IPL performance, I would’ve been selected for England tour’: Veteran India cricketer)
The 24-year-old wicketkeeper-batter managed scores of just 29, 5, 6 and 17 in the series with the fifth and final game washed out. Coach Rahul Dravid said Pant remains integral to plans despite the lean patch but former India opener Wasim Jaffer feels he may find it difficult to find place in the full-strength squad.
Jaffer picked Karthik, who scored 92 runs in the series including a match-winning 55 in the fourth T20I. “I think it will be difficult for Rishabh Pant to get a place in India’s full-strength team. You expect Rohit Sharma and Ishan Kishan to open, Virat Kohli will come at No. 3, Suryakumar Yadav at No. 4, Hardik Pandya at 5, Dinesh Karthik at 6 and Ravindra Jadeja at 7. It would be difficult for Rishabh Pant to get into this team when India’s at full strength,” he told ESPNcricinfo.
Pant’s attempts to fetch the ball from wide outside off stump was also a hot topic of debate, with Sunil Gavaskar saying he “hasn’t learned” from earlier dismissals and “he keeps going for it”. Pant was out the same way in each of his four innings against the Proteas. “He can’t throw enough muscle on that. He has got to stop looking to go aerial that far outside the off-stump,” said the batting great.
But Dravid extended support to Pant’s “attacking” brand of cricket, saying it’s hard to judge a player on two or three games. “He remains an integral part of our batting line-up. The fact that he is a left-hander is very important to us in the middle overs,” said Dravid.
“He would have liked to have scored more runs but it’s not that concerning. Certainly, he is very big part of our plans going forward in the next few months.”
India lost the opening two matches only to bounce back in the next two with convincing victories and Dravid said the young captain would learn from his mistakes. “I think he is a young captain, he is learning all the time, he is growing as a leader, he is getting more and more opportunities. It’s again too early to judge him.”
Pant will now fly to England to join the Rohit-led team for a rescheduled Test starting July 1 in Birmingham.