Pant’s World Cup hopes in balance after SL omission

by  Vijay Tagore •  Last updated on Wed, Dec 28, 2022, 09:57 PM

The Indian team selection for the six white-ball games against Sri Lanka has left a few question marks over the immediate white ball future of a couple of players who have been hitherto considered key to the national side. Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Rishabh Pant may be wondering what lies ahead for them in the Twenty20 and ODI formats, particularly the latter who could be thinking whether he will be part of the World Cup in India next year. Conflicting signals are emanating from the selection.

Cricbuzz has learnt that he has been asked to train at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) as the team management, as of today, will be trying out a few things in the series against Sri Lanka. Things may change going forward early next year when there will be a new selection committee and there is always the possibility of players getting injured but as things stand, Pant is not the preferred wicketkeeper for the ODIs.

It is obvious that KL Rahul, who kept wickets in the three-match ODI series recently in Bangladesh, is being seen as the one for the job behind the stumps and the double century by Ishan Kishan, also a wicketkeeper batsman, in the third ODI in Chattogram, could make a comeback difficult for Pant.

With about 10 months left for the World Cup, an ODI return for Pant, considered a once in a generation batsman, may not be impossible but he may be required to work on a few things which could be the reason behind the move to send him to the NCA. But there is no serious injury that would warrant his omission for the Sri Lanka series.

As for Bhuvneswhar Kumar, the team management might be looking beyond him. It is being felt that the veteran pacer, who has only been picked for T20Is in recent times, may not be the right bowler for the next Twenty20 World Cup which is in 2024. Unless the new selection has different plans, the current thinking is to groom players like Arshdeep Singh, Umran Malik, Shivam Mavi and Mukesh Kumar. Harshal Patel also features in the plans and the team management wants to look at players like Prasidh Krishna and Kuldeep Sen, who are both injured at this stage.

It is now obvious that Shikhar Dhawan has been upstaged by a new crop of players and his comeback into the ODIs, the only format he had been considered lately, looks extremely difficult. In fact, he could have been left out long back but Virat Kohli fought hard for him before the team selection for the ODI series against England in 2021. He managed to extend his career with some good knocks in the series and later in an exigent situation he was required to be made the captain, for the away series against Sri Lanka as the first-choice squad was in England preparing for the Tests.

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