NEW DELHI: As the day of the announcement of India’s World Cup squad gets closer, the race for the second wicketkeeper’s spot has intensified.
It has also been learnt that the selectors are not in favour of deviating much from the last squad they had picked for the one-day home series against Australia this March.
The MSK Prasad-led selection committee will meet in Mumbai on April 15.
“The selectors had zeroed in on the World Cup squad after the recent Australia series. The IPL was only used to check the fitness of the players. Pant has been allowed to ease into the team recently but Karthik has played a few crucial cameos. The selectors are ready with the team for a week now,” a source close to the team told TOI.
Rayudu faces competition from Shankar
It may be recalled that captain Virat Kohli had claimed after the Australia series, that only one spot was open for discussion. Karthik was ignored against Australia while MS Dhoni decided to skip the last two matches to give Pant some game time in ODI cricket. At around the same time, Pant was given a Grade A central contract while Karthik was demoted to Grade C from B.
It has also been learnt that the management is impressed with the emergence of Vijay Shankar as an allrounder. That means Ambati Rayudu, who was identified as the No. 4 in October, faces stiff competition from Shankar as Hardik Pandya is set to walk into the team.
Picking Shankar will give the team an extra option in pace attack comprising Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. That will help accommodate another allrounder in Ravindra Jadeja who made a strong comeback in white-ball cricket in September.
Coming back to the Pant vs Karthik debate, the latter’s ability to build a long innings has been questioned despite his experience, whereas there are doubts over Pant’s ability for sustained hitting. “The team management has been looking for an option besides Hardik who can take the pressure off Dhoni in term’s of run rate,” the source said.
Source : timesofindia