Ashish Nehra feels Rishabh Pant should be a part of India’s World Cup squad as he is a genuine match winner, power hitter and a back-up opener. The former Indian pacer gave five reasons for the left hand batsman’s inclusion in the team.
“In a team, there will always be contributors but at a big event like the World Cup, you need players with X-factor. Rishabh Pant is not a mere contributor but a pure match-winner who should be picked for the World Cup,” Nehra said.
According to him, Men in Blue need a left hand batsman as there aren’t many in the team.
“If you look at India’s batting line up, save Shikhar (Dhawan), there aren’t any left-handers in the top seven. You need variety with a left-right combination, where Rishabh perfectly fits,” he reasoned.
The senior statesman stated that Pant can bat at any position between 1 to 7.
“Rishabh can bat at any position between No. 1 to 7 and so Virat (Kohli) and the team management can use him as a floater,” said Nehra.
Nehra is impressed with Pant’s ability to hit effortless sixes.
“If it comes to effortlessly hitting sixes, Rishabh comes second only to Rohit Sharma with his big-hitting ability. India will need that in abundance during the World Cup,” Nehra said.
Nehra felt Pant can win matches single-handedly.
“No disrespect, this team has three clear match-winners and they are Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah. For me, the fourth one is going to be Rishabh Pant. Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav and Dinesh Karthik are all fantastic players but they are all in the same mould. You need X-factor which this boy possesses,” he added.
Nehra further added both Pant and Karthik can represent India in the World Cup.
“As I have already said, Rishabh could also be your third opener, so DK (as Karthik is referred to) could be your middle order batter,” he said.
Nehra said looking at Karthik and Pant as second and third wicketkeepers is wrong.
“I don’t look at it from that perspective. If Rishabh and DK are being picked ahead of specialist batsmen like Manish Pandey and Shreyas Iyer, then you are looking at them as specialist batsmen.
“So why complicate the thought process. As it is we have the peerless MS Dhoni behind stumps so treat both as specialist batsmen,” he concluded.