Amid a forgettable Asia Cup 2022 tournament for the Indian side where the defending champions were knocked out after twin losses in the Super 4 stage, there was certain debate that began to brew pertaining to the team’s final combination for the T20 World Cup in Australia. Dinesh Karthik and Rishabh Pant are both certainties for the tournament, but who among them will be the obvious choice no matter the playing conditions or match-ups, was a question that many veterans and experts were asked. Senior India batter Cheteshwar Pujara too joined the bandwagon of experts and gave his verdict on the debate.
India picked Karthik over Pant for their opener against Pakistan, a move that was questioned by many. While a lot many criticised India’s decision to rest Karthik in the subsequent matches despite the veteran star having proven himself as a match-winner down the order.
When asked who between the two is a must in India’s playing XI for the T20 World Cup, Pujara, in conversation with ESPNCricinfo, opined that with the kind of Asia Cup Rohit Sharma’s side had, they need both the star batters to strengthen their batting line-up. However, he admitted that if India need an extra bowling option in Deepak Hooda, Pant will have to sit out.
“I think if I had to pick my No.5, 6 and 7 I would go with… with the kind of Asia Cup we had, we need to strengthen our batting lineup,” Pujara said. “I would go with Rishabh at No.5, Hardik at No.6 and DK at No.7. I think we need to include both. Rishabh and DK need to play. Unless you’re looking for Hooda to bowl a few overs. If he bowls, then I think Rishabh misses out, Deepak has to bat No.5.”
India’s middle-order batting has been a case of concern for the team management as the side missed the services of Ravindra Jadeja in the Super 4 where the team lost two matches. The all-rounder was ruled out of the tournament owing to an injury and is likely to miss the T20 World Cup as well.
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