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'India need Rishabh Pant for the World Cup'

January 09, 2019 08:53 IST

'Pant can be your match-winner, he has the X-factor.'

Rishabh Pant

IMAGE: Rishabh Pant was dropped from the Indian team for the ODI series in Australia and New Zealand. Photograph: Albert Perez/Getty Images

Bring back Rishabh Pant back into the ODI team, declareS Harbhajan Singh, who just can't believe that the selectors have kept out the highly-rated youngster for the ODI series in Australia and New Zealand.

The former India off-spinner was highly impressed with the Delhi wicket-keeper-batsman's showing with the bat in the four Test series in Australia.

Bhajji believes India is making a big mistake by leaving out an exciting talent like Pant from the ODI team with the 2019 World Cup just a few months away.

Pant has featured in just three ODIs so far. He played as specialist batsman in three of the five ODIs in the home series against West Indies where he scored 17 and 24.

 

"Rishabh Pant should be part of the Indian ODI team as well. He is a very good player in white ball cricket as well," Bhajji tells Harish Kotian/Rediff.com.

"Rishabh was brilliant with the bat, the way he took on the Australian bowlers and dominated them. He is a special talent and he is young so he will continue to improve in the future," Bhajji adds.

Despite a few blemishes with the gloves he finished with 20 catches -- the most by an Indian wicket-keeper in a four Test series.

And there was no stopping Pant with the bat.

The left-hander smashed a brilliant 159 not out in the Sydney Test to finish with 350 runs in the series, leaving behind the likes of Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane.

"I hope Pant is also included in the ODI team because he can make the difference with the bat," says Bhajji, asserting, "He can be your match-winner, he has the X-factor."

Pant's ability to destroy bowling attacks, Bhajji points out, makes him a contender for the opening slot or he could be slotted lower in the order as the finisher.

The left-hander was unstoppable in the IPL last year, smashing 684 runs in 14 games, with a strike rate of 173, hitting a century and five 50s.

"You can play Pant as the reserve opener because you have seen in the IPL how he destroyed bowling attacks. Or you can bat him lower in the order and finish off matches. He can also keep wickets and add the balance to the side," says Bhajji.

"He should be part of an important tournament like the World Cup because he can make the difference with the bat," Bhajji adds.

Pant, who returns home after the Test series, will turn out for India 'A' in a five-match ODI series against the England Lions. He is part of India's T20I squad for the three games series in New Zealand.

"I know Pant hasn't done well in the few ODI games that he has played," acknowledges Bhajji, "but you need to back him and give him confidence."

Harish Kotian / Rediff.com
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