After India wrapped up their Super 12 campaign with a 71-run thrashing of Zimbabwe to top Group 2 and set up a meeting with England in the semifinals of the Men’s T20 World Cup, head coach Rahul Dravid expressed that giving Rishabh Pant an opportunity to have game time through Sunday’s match was really important to keep various options in hand.
In Sunday’s match, Pant got into the playing eleven in place of veteran wicketkeeper-batter Dinesh Karthik, marking his first appearance in the tournament.
Batting at number five, the left-hander played a flat slog-sweep off Sean Williams, but Ryan Burl ran full tilt to his left from long-on and flung himself to take a superb diving catch, ending his stay at just three off five balls.
“Also, we felt that if we batted first, it would give us an opportunity to play 20 overs and just get into that ability of still trying to get a par, par-plus score batting first. Then, sometimes it gives us the opportunity, as well, to play Rishabh, keeping obviously this game in mind as well but just keeping the future in mind, as well, just opening up our options.”
“Everyone is available for selections; just because somebody missed out on this game doesn’t mean that we can’t go back to him and we can’t decide on. We might go the same way. We might go a different way, as well. We just wanted to ensure that we have our options open, giving Rishabh an opportunity to have game time, which was really important,” said Dravid in the post-match press conference.
Pant had captained India in a five-match home series against South Africa in June. But since Asia Cup, he has been in and out of the side as Karthik’s stunning returns as a specialist finisher coinciding with the youngster’s patchy form meant he wasn’t a certainty in the playing eleven. Ever since India arrived in Australia, Pant played practice matches against Western Australia XI in early October, making a pair of 9 runs while opening the batting.