Eoin Morgan backs Rishabh Pant to take the keeper-batter’s slot in India’s T20 WC squad

One of the main selection questions for India ahead of the men’s T20 World Cup squad selection possibly at the end of this month is choosing the right candidate for the wicketkeeper-batter slot.

One of the main selection questions for India ahead of the men’s T20 World Cup squad selection possibly at the end of this month is choosing the right candidate for the wicketkeeper-batter slot.

There are plenty of contenders for that slot, comprising Rishabh Pant, Ishan Kishan, KL Rahul, Sanju Samson, Jitesh Sharma and Dhruv Jurel. Eoin Morgan, England’s 2019 Men’s ODI World Cup winning captain, has backed Pant to be the preferred choice for the wicketkeeper-batter slot in the Indian team for T20 World Cup.

“It would be Rishabh Pant, because of the player that he is. I don’t see him being hampered in any way after coming back from that car crash. For me, he’s a very destructive player and is also left-handed. A left-hander in that middle-order role which he can play will also add a huge amount of pressure as opposed to the generic right-handers,” said Morgan, an IPL expert, in a virtual interaction organised by digital broadcasters JioCinema.

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Pant made a return to competitive cricket action through Delhi Capitals’ first game against Punjab Kings at Mullanpur on March 23, nearly 15 months after suffering various injuries, including reconstruction of right knee ligaments, in a life-threatening car crash in December 2022.

Pant’s scores in IPL 2024 for DC so far have been 18, 28, 51, 55 and 1, coming at an average of 30.60 and strike-rate of 154.54. He’s shown signs of coming back to his prime best with the bat and gloves, taking four catches while effecting a stumping in the competition. In 66 T20Is for India, Pant has made 987 runs, including three half-centuries, at an average of 22.43 and strike-rate of 126.37.

Right after IPL 2024 ends on May 26, everyone’s focus will shift immediately to Men’s T20 World Cup, hosted by USA and the West Indies from June 1-29. India will be entering the tournament with an aim to add their second T20 World Cup title after winning the inaugural edition in 2007.

But India’s recent record in T20 World Cups hasn’t been encouraging – failing to make the semi-finals in 2021 and being handed a ten-wicket thrashing by eventual champions England in the semi-finals of 2022 edition.

Morgan, who won 2010 T20 World Cup title with England, believes India’s biggest challenge will be to quickly adapt to conditions on offer in USA and West Indies when they kickstart their campaign against Ireland at the Nassau County Stadium in Eisenhower Park, New York on June 5.

“In terms of the upcoming T20 World Cup, I see India’s biggest challenge being adapting to conditions. They will be playing Ireland and Pakistan (plus USA) in New York, on a pitch that we don’t know what it’s going to be like. It will be a new stadium, which should be a brilliant and excellent venue.”

“But they will be playing on a pitch of which we have no previous information about. For me, that can cause issues because one of the hardest thing that comes in winning away from home is always about how you play conditions. In T20s especially, it can be difficult. So, the tournament slowly moves collectively down to the Caribbean islands.”

“But if you would ask me about the tournament and the template on how you wish to win as a team, be clear in your roles and how you want to achieve things will help you in taking confidence to the next stage of the competition. So, their biggest challenge will be adapting to conditions in USA and West Indies,” he concluded.

 (IANS)

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