Veteran Indian speedster Ashish Nehra has backed Delhi wicket-keeper batsman Rishabh Pant to be included in the Men-in-Blue’s World Cup squad. Heaping praises on Pant, Nehra said the Delhi batsman was a pure match-winner, and he could also be used as a back-up opener.
Nehra, who has seen Pant’s progress in Delhi as well in the international cricket, gave five specific reasons for the energetic youngster’s inclusion in the playing XI of the ICC World Cup 2019, which starts in May 2019.
“In a team, there will always be contributors but at a big event like the World Cup, you need players with X-factor. Rishabh Pant is not a mere contributor but a pure match-winner who should be picked for the World Cup,” said Nehra, who was part of Team India’s 2011 World Cup-winning team.
“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, where Rishabh perfectly fits,” PTI quoted Nehra as saying.
Pant, 21, is a left-handed batsman and the Delhi batsman scored Test hundreds in his first series in England and Australia.
“Secondly, Rishabh can bat at any position between Nos 1 to 7 and so Virat (Kohli) and the team management can use him as a floater,” said Nehra, who is associated with IPL team Royal Challengers Bangalore, said.
The third reason given by Nehra, who also played the 2003 World Cup final in South Africa, was Pant’s ability to hit sixes effortlessly from the word go.
The 39-year-old veteran pacer also stated that Pant’s fearless approach can come handy in pressure situations.
“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,” Nehra added.
Nehra also believes that Pant has shown the ability to win matches single-handedly.
“No disrespect, this team has three clear match-winners and they are Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah. For me, the fourth one is going to be Rishabh Pant,” Nehra said, before adding, “Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav and Dinesh Karthik are all fantastic players but they are all in the same mould. You need X-factor which this boy possesses.”