Does the non-inclusion of Dinesh Karthik in the Indian team to play Australia in the ODI series starting later this month mean that he is out of contention for a berth in the World Cup squad? One would hope not and chief selector MSK Prasad has also hinted along these lines saying that there is a pool of about 20 players from which the final selection will be made. But it does put needless pressure on a player who has performed admirably of late, on numerous occasions rising to the occasion on the big occasion and displaying his prowess as a finisher.

From being in and out of the team for long Karthik who made his ODI debut against England at Lord’s in 2004 seemed to have finally cemented his place in the side thanks to a series of sterling performances. He has gone in for India from anywhere between the No 3 and No 7 positions besides opening the innings on a few occasions. He took a lot of time to consolidate his position in the side because the middle order was very competitive and he could only get in as a specialist batsman since MS Dhoni was always around as the wicketkeeper.

Despite the meteoric rise of Rishabh Pant one would like to think that Karthik would be an automatic selection for the World Cup given his recent showing. With Dhoni still around even Pant will play as a specialist batsmen and there is place for both. But while Pant finds a place in the team to play Australia – making his elevation to the World Cup squad almost automatic – Karthik will have to withstand the suspense of whether he is going to make the team for England following his omission from the side to play Australia.

Very clearly the selectors have opted for KL Rahul in place of Karthik. Overall Karthik would seem to have the better figures. In 77 innings he has scored 1738 runs at an average of 31 and a strike rate of almost 74. Rahul from 12 innings has 317 runs at an average of 35 and a strike rate of 80. On recent form though there is no denying the fact that Karthik’s record is far superior. In the last two years Rahul has scored just 121 runs from nine innings at an average of 15. Karthik on the other hand in the last six months has scored 221 runs from nine innings at an average of 44. On the evidence of all this it is clear that the selectors have not been fair to Karthik.

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