Suddenly Rishabh Pant is the most talked about young cricketer in the land and why not? He has endeared himself to all being a confident youngster who knows his way about, as a perky wicketkeeper whose incessant chatting may make the purist wince but is very much a part of today’s game. Most important his batting is refreshingly bold and vigorous. Even in the days of the T-20 game his brand of cricket stands out as he looks to get runs off every ball, either through a big hit or a quick single. Moreover he applies the same approach in Test cricket too as a strike rate of almost 74 will testify. Two centuries in cricket’s traditional format from nine matches underscores that he can play a big innings, only he doesn’t too long in compiling them. His game is of course tailor made for the shorter versions as his showing in 13 T-20s and three ODIs has confirmed.
It is taken for granted that the 21-year-old Pant is going to be a member of the World Cup squad despite the presence of MS Dhoni and probably another wicket keeper batsman in Dinesh Karthik. Of course with Dhoni around Pant’s role will be that of a specialist batsman and there is every reason to believe that he will be a success. For one thing he has already performed admirably in England last year including getting his first Test hundred. Secondly at the moment he can do no wrong and everything is coming up roses for him including equaling the world record for most dismissals in a Test – 11 against Australia at Adelaide a couple of months ago.
Not unexpectedly he has been the subject of much praise and the latest to become a Pant fan is Shane Warne. The spin legend has backed Pant not only to play as a specialist batsman in the World Cup but also feels that he could open the innings along with Rohit Sharma. “I know Shikhar Dhawan does a great job but Pant opening the batting with Rohit could be pretty cool too for India. Go with some of these X-factor type things and tactical battles where you can surprise the opposition.’’ Warne also suggested that it would be worth trying out Pant at the top of the order for a couple of games to see how things work out and perhaps this experiment could be done against Australia.
The five ODIs and the two T-20s against Australia will be the last chance for India to try out any experiments before the World Cup and one is sure that the selectors and the team management will make use of the series to fit in the few missing pieces in the jigsaw puzzle and have a settled team for the mega event. Pant at the top of the order could be one of these experiments worth trying out.