India ready to punt on Rishabh

Coach Dravid backs southpaw ahead of semi-finals
Rishabh Pant
Rishabh Pant

MELBOURNE: Rishabh Pant’s disappointing outing against Zimbabwe isn’t a cause of concern for head coach Rahul Dravid, who hinted that the flamboyant left-hander could start in the T20 World Cup semifinal against England at Adelaide on Thursday.

Pant didn’t get a look-in in the first four games where veteran Dinesh Karthik, who in all likelihood is playing his last global meet, was assigned the role of a finisher. With Karthik not being able to deliver on bowler friendly Australian tracks, Pant is back in equation.

“I don’t think we judge people on one game, and sometimes whether we play them or not is not based on one game,” Dravid said after India’s 71 run victory in which Pant’s contribution was a mere three.

After that, Dravid gave good enough indication that decision to field Pant wasn’t taken in isolation as the coach was potentially looking at a match-up with leg spinner Adil Rashid in the semifinals.

“Sometimes it’s just match-ups. We need to look at what are the skills we might need against the kind of bowlers we might come up against. So, a lot of things go into these kind of decisions,” said Dravid. He also firmly reiterated that team management had never lost faith in Pant.

“Yeah, in a sense it’s not that we ever lost confidence in Rishabh. We’ve got confidence in all of our 15 players who play here. It’s only 11 guys who can play, and it depends on the combinations that you have.

“The very fact that they are here and they’re part of the World Cup means that we have a lot of confidence in them. It means that anytime they can be called on to play in the XI.

“Yes, you can only play 11 at a time and some people sometimes miss out and don’t get to play, but again, Rishabh is someone that as a lot of you would have been seeing, has been travelling with us.

“He’s been batting a lot in the nets, he’s been hitting a lot of balls, doing a lot of fielding practice and sort of keeping practice and keeping himself ready,” he reasoned.

Is there a place for Chahal

against England?

Dravid is not the one to give away playing eleven but said he would go into the game with an open mind considering shorter dimensions of the Adelaide Oval. Asked about trying out Yuzvendra Chahal, Dravid said: “Like I said earlier, I think we have a completely open mind about everyone in our 15. We believe anybody who comes into the 15 will not potentially make us weaker, the kind of squad we’ve picked.”

Ball is gripping in Adelaide

Dravid will take a call after seeing the Adelaide track as Bangladesh versus Pakistan saw spinners playing a major role. “Again, we’ll have to go there and see. I watched some of the games today and I know the tracks were slow and they gripped and they turned a bit.

“We might be playing on a completely new strip in Adelaide, and the strip we played with against Bangladesh, to be honest, did not spin. It was, again, a different kind of wicket, and it was played at Adelaide, as well.”

“Of course, if it’s slow we’ll play according to those situations. If we think it might play differently, then we’ll have to put up a squad to match that,” he concluded.

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