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The big question: Rishabh or Dinesh

Who will be the ideal No.4 batsman for India at the mega event, which begins in England on May 30?

By TT Bureau in Calcutta
  • Published 15.04.19, 2:20 AM
  • Updated 15.04.19, 2:20 AM
  • 2 mins read
Dinesh Karthik (PTI)

The “fairly-settled” Indian World Cup squad will get its final shape on Monday when the national selectors meet in Mumbai.

The question that still remains unanswered for Virat Kohli’s team is: Who will be the ideal No.4 batsman for India at the mega event, which begins in England on May 30?

Time and again, captain Kohli has indicated that only one slot is up for grabs in the Indian playing XI with the core more or less pretty set.

Besides that, the debate might also be over including a second wicketkeeper and an extra seamer in India’s World Cup squad.

Let’s first look at those who are almost guaranteed a spot in the flight to England.

Apart from captain Kohli, the others who wouldn’t probably be having a sleepless Sunday night are vice-captain Rohit Sharma, opener Shikhar Dhawan, middle-order batsman Kedar Jadhav, No.1 ’keeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, all-rounder Hardik Pandya, spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, and pacers Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami.

Some might have doubts over Chahal, but the leg-spinner enjoys the team management’s support and it is unlikely that his place in the squad will be questioned.

Among the contenders, the biggest contest is likely to be between the much-experienced Dinesh Karthik and the young and talented Rishabh Pant. They will be vying for the second wicketkeeper’s slot, but it is their form with the bat that will decide on who gets the nod, because both can also make the playing XI purely as a batsman.

Though many have said that the players’ IPL performances would not be, or should not be, considered for selection to the ODI squad, it is almost impossible to ignore the ongoing T20 league. And if that is the case, Rishabh has far scored over 200 runs playing for the Delhi Capitals, while Kolkata Knight Riders captain Karthik has just accumulated 111 runs from eight games at an average of 18.50.

Rishabh clearly has an edge as his reputation as a batsman has only got better. That Karthik was omitted from the India squad for the series against Australia that preceded the IPL might also be an indication to what the team management and the selectors are wishing for.

One batsman who has almost booked his spot in the squad is KL Rahul. His tally of 335 runs at an average of 67 for Kings XI Punjab in this IPL so far will go a long way in convincing the selectors of his inclusion in the XV.

Then there is Ambati Rayudu, who not very long ago was considered a reliable No.4 in the Indian team. But his recent form is nothing to talk of and therefore he is no longer a certainty.

Vijay Shankar is on a better ground as compared to Rayudu. The all-rounder for Tamil Nadu made the most of the International opportunities that came his way and his ability with the bat has been lauded by many. Though Hardik is the preferred all-rounder in Virat’s team, Shankar might be considered as an option for the No.4 slot.