Former India fast bowler Ashish Nehra feels Rishabh Pant should be included in India's squad for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 due to his ability to turn a match on its head.
Pant has been impressive during his short international career to date. Blessed with powerful striking ability, the wicket-keeper-batsman has already marked himself out as a potential match-winner and Nehra believes he's good enough to merit a place, with the tournament getting underway in England on May 30.
Nehra listed a host of reasons why Pant should be in the team whilst noting that the starlet and Shikhar Dhawan could be the only left-handed front-line batsmen in the squad.
"In a team there will always be contributors, but at a big event like the World Cup, you need players with X-factor," Nehra was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India.
"Rishabh Pant is not a mere contributor but a pure match-winner who should be picked for the World Cup.
"If you look at India's batting line-up, save Shikhar (Dhawan), there aren't any left-handers in the top seven. You need variety with a left-right combination.
"Secondly, Rishabh can bat at any position between No.1 and No.7, so Virat (Kohli) and the team management can use him as a floater.
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"If it comes to effortlessly hitting sixes, Rishabh comes second only to Rohit Sharma with his big-hitting ability. India will need that in abundance during the World Cup."
One issue for Pant is that India already have two wicket-keepers in Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Dinesh Karthik in the ODI team, and it might be difficult to squeeze in a third. But Nehra feels Karthik and Pant should be treated as specialist batsmen since Dhoni is sure to retain the gloves through the tournament.
"Why complicate the thought process? As it is we have the peerless MS Dhoni behind the stumps, so treat both as specialist batsmen," added Nehra, who represented India in the 2011 and 2003 editions of the ICC Cricket World Cup.
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