New Delhi, April 15: Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar Monday (April 15) said he is surprised at young glovesman Rishabh Pant's exclusion from India's World Cup squad given his "exceptionally" good batting form and "great" improvement in wicket-keeping skills.
The 33-year-old Dinesh Karthik pipped Pant in the fight for the second wicketkeeper's slot in India's 15-strong squad for the World Cup, starting May 30 in England. Gavaskar said the move is surprising but backed Karthik as a better wicketkeeper.
"A bit surprised, looking at his (Pant's) form. He was batting exceptionally well, not only in the IPL but before that also. He was showing great improvement in his wicket-keeping as well. He brings that left-handed option in the top-six which is very handy against the bowlers," Gavaskar told 'India Today'.
"The bowlers have to change their line (for a left-hander) and the captains have to do a lot of field arrangements. Pant has so far scored 245 runs in the ongoing IPL, compared to Karthik's 111. Karthik was chosen over Pant despite an indifferent IPL campaign with the Kolkata Knight Riders. Gavaskar said there was some merit in the move.
"On a morning when say, MSD (Mahendra Singh Dhoni) has flu and can't play, you want somebody who is a better wicket-keeper. I think Karthik's wicket-keeping skills, more than anything, have won him this place," Gavaskar said.
Gavaskar said Tamil Nadu all-rounder Vijay Shankar, who made it to the squad for his "three-dimensional qualities", will be a very useful player for the team.
"He is a cricketer who has improved over the last one year. He has grown in confidence. Shankar is a very useful cricketer. He is a very very good batsman, handy bowler, and an outstanding fielder," the batting great explained.
Here's how others reacted to Pant missing the flight to England:
Former Indian batsman Aakash Chopra said Pant's elevation to the top tier of the central contracts had him believe that the youngster would make India's World Cup squad.
"Wasn't Pant elevated to the top tier of the Central Contracts a few weeks back?? Not a certainty in two of the three formats," Chopra wrote on his Twitter page.
So, India has picked Shankar as #4 option. Without really knowing if it’ll work. DK will play only when Dhoni isn’t available. And no fourth seamer. Interesting choices. Hope it works. ☺️🤗Good luck 👍🙌 #CWC— Aakash Chopra (@cricketaakash) April 15, 2019
"India has picked Shankar as #4 option. Without really knowing if it'll work. DK will play only when Dhoni isn't available. And no fourth seamer. Interesting choices. Hope it works. Good luck #CWC." Former India medium-pacer RP Singh and star of India's 2007 World T20 triumph said he hoped that the decision to pick experience over youth works in the team's favour at the mega-event.
"Clearly they've chosen experience and patience in the form of @DineshKarthik. Middle order will be very interesting to see @klrahul11/@DineshKarthik could be at number 4. Rest seems sorted with @JadhavKedar and @msdhoni at number 5/6," Singh tweeted.
Just three frontline pacers, all of them may play given the English conditions. With @imjadeja too there, have to say this Indian spin bowling will be the best this world cup. @hardikpandya7 & @vijayshankar260 could be of great value if they could fine tune their variations 👌— R P Singh रुद्र प्रताप सिंह (@rpsingh) April 15, 2019
Former India cricketer S Badrinath feels Team India are a seamer short.
Former England captain Michael Vaughan criticised the Indian selectors for not picking up Pant.
No @RishabPant777 in the World Cup Squad ... India must be bonkers !!!!!— Michael Vaughan (@MichaelVaughan) April 15, 2019
Former administrator Makarand Waingankar congratulated Karthik for making it to the squad.
Dinesh Karthik was replaced by Dhoni more than a decade ago & now DK is a 2nd WK. Patience & focussed hard work pays. Must compliment his life coach Abhishek Nayar.— Makarand Waingankar (@wmakarand) April 15, 2019
Veteran commentator Harsha Bhogle felt bad for Pant but also commended Karthik for his terrific journey.
While Pant will be a bit confused given that he is the test keeper but has been left out on wicketkeeping skills, this caps an astonishing sequence of events for Dinesh Karthik. From being down and out in life to being at the World Cup. It is a story of hope.— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) April 15, 2019
Sanjay Manjrekar criticises selectors for not showing faith in Karthik and dropping him during the ODI series against Australia at home.
It’s impossible to keep everyone happy with team selections but Karthik inclusion surprising. Selectors guilty of showing no consistency in his case. Discarded after Jan 2019 to select straight for the WC. Shankar is a lucky man to make it. #CricketLive #StarSports— Sanjay Manjrekar (@sanjaymanjrekar) April 15, 2019
Veteran commentator and columnist Ayaz Memon criticised the selectors for not picking up X-Factor in Pant.
Karthik over Pant is defensive thinking IMO. If Pant is first choice wk for Tests, what reduces his ability for ODIs?— Cricketwallah (@cricketwallah) April 15, 2019
Pant deserved to make it to India's WC squad.
Very strong signal from selectors about his wicket keeping abilities, which obviously need some improvement. Though he would have made it to many teams purely as a batsman especially given his present form. https://t.co/2VwYxfxFjM— Suhel Banerjee (@suhel) April 15, 2019
Rayudu lost the confidence of captain Kohli says veteran cricket journalist Gaurav Kalra.
not so long back Rayudu virtually had the endorsement of virat kohli, no less, to be India's number 4 at the world cup..in sport, there can be no guarantees..— Gaurav Kalra (@gauravkalra75) April 15, 2019
Former India cricketer Mohd Kaif was happy with the progress Mohd Shami has made in the limited-overs cricket.
6 mnths back, Mohammad Shami was nowhere near being considered for white ball cricket, but some outstanding performances has ensured he plays his 2nd World Cup. Him & Jadeja have fought their way back in .There will be few disappointed players but best wishes to Team India #CWC19 pic.twitter.com/tqjm2nAwAM— Mohammad Kaif (@MohammadKaif) April 15, 2019