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Lucky Pant justifies World Cup selection

Lucky Pant justifies World Cup selection

New Delhi, June 30: Very few people are as lucky as Rishabh Pant.

Forced to watch more than half of India's World Cup campaign on television, the talented wicketkeeper-batsman from Delhi finally got a chance to make his debut at the biggest stage of world cricket when the two-time champions faced England in a crucial encounter on Sunday.

Rookie all-rounder Vijay Shankar, who was preferred ahead of Pant when the selectors announced India's World Cup squad, failed to live upto expectations.

Vijay Shankar's failure with the bat has thrown his selection into India's World Cup squad into fierce debate.

While selecting the squad for the showpiece event, the selectors had envisaged Vijay as one of the options for the contentious fourth spot in the batting order, which has been a problem for the Indian team for more than a year now.

The Tamil Nadu all-rounder has been a failure with the bat so far. He scored an unbeaten run-a-ball 15 against Pakistan, a rather slow 29 off 41 balls against Afghanistan and 14 off 19 against the West Indies.

He has not exactly set the pitch on fire with the ball as well, although he was not too bad against Pakistan.

Vijay's non-performance has thrown into question the selectors' decision to include him in the squad instead of Pant.

Pant has justified the decision to include him in the playing XI against England with a 29-ball 32 on a difficult pitch.

He was dismissed after Chris Woakes pulled off a superb catch off Liam Plunkett's bowling.

Pant had hit a trademark extravagant shot to the onside. Woakes ran in from deep square leg and dived to grab the ball while airborne.  

One of the most exciting young players to emerge in recent years, Pant has given ample glimpses of his talent right from the days when he used to ply his trade at the age group levels.

The talented left-hander was left out of the Indian squad that traveled to the UK for the World Cup as the selectors felt that he was not experienced enough yet and instead preferred the experience and steady batting style of Dinesh Karthick.

That decision was criticised by several former players, including none other than legends and one-time bitter on-field rivals Sourav Ganguly and Ricky Ponting.

Both batting greats are now mentor and coach respectively of the Delhi Daredevils and had strenuously advocated Pant's case for a World Cup spot.

Now that destiny has given Pant the chance to play his first World Cup this year itself, he will no doubt want to grab the opportunity with both hands.

With India facing Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in their last two matches of the round robin group stage, the Delhi lad will have ample chance to prove his mettle.

The Delhi lad has experienced several highs and lows over the course of his fledgling career.

He first came into the limelight after his exploits for India at the 2016 Under-19 World Cup. His 24-ball 75 against Nepal - the fastest half-century of the tournament - was one of the standout highlights of that World Cup.

He followed that up with a century against Namibia in the next match.

His heroics with the bat earned him a spot in the Delhi Daredevils squad. He also earned a permanent spot in the Delhi team and was named as the captain of the state team in the 50-over format.

Pant has the talent and the potential. It is now up to the Indian team management to devise strategies and tactics which will utilise the talent at their disposal to the fullest extent.

News24 Bureau

Phot: Google Image

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