DUBAI: A day after former Australia captain Ricky Ponting said India should look to field both Dinesh Karthik and Rishabh Pant in their T20I playing eleven, wicketkeeping great Adam Gilchrist has thrown his support in Pant's favour, saying that the southpaw should definitely be in the playing eleven.
For a while, there has been a long-ranging debate on who between Karthik and Pant should start in India's eleven for the ICC Men's T20 World Cup starting next month in Australia. While right-handed Karthik can boast about being a specialist finisher in the shortest format of the game, Pant's left-handed angle in the top six, despite his T20I record not being much impressive, cannot be ignored.
"The dare of Rishabh Pant and the courage for him, the way in which he takes on bowling attacks. I think he's got to be a must in that Indian line-up. They can play together, but I think Rishabh Pant has definitely got to be in there," Gilchrist was quoted as saying by ICC.
In Asia Cup 2022, Karthik got the nod ahead of Pant for India's opening match against Pakistan. In the next game against Hong Kong, with all-rounder Hardik Pandya rested, Pant was brought into the eleven. Pant played in Super Four matches against Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, before being left out of the eleven for the first T20I against Australia in Mohali.
Though Gilchrist backed Pant to be India's sole wicketkeeping option, he added that he liked Karthik's "versatility" and his superlative finishing skills. "It'll be interesting to see if they can both play in the same team. I think they can. What they bring to a team... the versatility of Dinesh Karthik, he can play at the top of the order, he can, as he has done more so later in his career, be in the middle and late overs to finish. He has a really nice touch game."
Earlier, speaking on the ICC Review Show, Ponting had endorsed the view of getting Pant and Karthik together in India's playing eleven to strengthen the side's batting power. "I actually think that India's best team has both of these players (Karthik and Pant). I don't care if they are both keepers but I think their batting prowess is enough. Rishabh in the middle order and Dinesh as a finisher, they look extremely dangerous to me."
Ponting later on said that Pant, 24, has an edge over Karthik, 37 as he is likely to be afforded more chances in the Indian set-up. Ponting has seen Pant from the closest quarters as head coach of Delhi Capitals in IPL, where the left-hander was the skipper.
"Look, I'm just going to favour Rishabh because I think he might get slightly more opportunities than Dinesh does."