Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 June 2019

India opt for 'big match' experience in World Cup picks

Dinesh Karthik gets nod over Rishabh Pant as back-up wicket-keeper to MS Dhoni while Vijay Shankar's inclusion suggest selectors have him earmarked for problematic fourth batting slot

Dinesh Karthik, right, seen here in action against Bangladesh at the Asia Cup in Dubai in September 2018, was on Monday named in India's 2019 World Cup squad. AFP
Dinesh Karthik, right, seen here in action against Bangladesh at the Asia Cup in Dubai in September 2018, was on Monday named in India's 2019 World Cup squad. AFP

India on Monday named a tried and tested squad for the World Cup led by Virat Kohli with selectors going for experience in all the slots for the marquee 50-over event.

Dinesh Karthik, 33, was given the second wicketkeeper's slot over rising 21-year-old star Rishabh Pant, ending days of speculation over the role.

Vijay Shankar's inclusion means he will probably be the first choice No 4 batsman, a position which India has struggle to fill permanently.

Karthik has not been on form in recent games, but selectors said they value his performance under pressure over the years.

"Definitely it's a case where we debated at length. We went ahead with Karthik because of his experience in big matches," chief selector MSK. Prasad told a news conference.

"We have seen Karthik finishing matches under pressure. Pant is full of talent, there's a lot of time for him and it's just unfortunate that he has missed out."

Karthik was part of the India squad for the 2007 World Cup but was overlooked for 2011 and 2015.

The selectors, however, made it clear that former India captain MS Dhoni, 37, would remain first-choice wicketkeeper.

"In an important game, wicketkeeping is also important. Karthik will only play in case of an injury to Dhoni," Prasad said.

India's Rishabh Pant has plenty of potential and time on his side to make future World Cup squads. AFP
India's Rishabh Pant has plenty of potential and time on his side to make future World Cup squads. AFP

Indian batting great Sunil Gavaskar said Pant could have been an exciting option but backed the selectors.

"On a morning when say, [Dhoni] has flu and can't play, you want somebody who is a better wicket-keeper. I think Karthik's wicketkeeping skills, more than anything, have won him this place," he told India Today TV.

The veteran Dhoni led India to World Cup glory at home in 2011 and will play in his fourth tournament.

All-rounder Shankar, who made his one-day debut this year, was also named for the tournament to be held in England and Wales that starts on May 30.

Shankar, 28, would probably be the No 4 batsman, a position in the 15-member squad that had been difficult to fill, according to Prasad. India have tried 11 different No 4s since 2017.

Shankar's "three-dimensional qualities" worked in his favour when pitted against Ambati Rayudu who has been struggling recently.

"Apart from his batting, he can bowl if the conditions are suitable. If the conditions are overcast, which we might encounter in England, he might bowl a bit and he's a fantastic fielder."

In the fast bowling department, Bhuvneshwar Kumar was set to be back-up pacer to Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami in the big games.

India, ranked second behind England in one-day games, reached the semi-finals of the 2015 World Cup where they lost to Australia.

Updated: April 15, 2019 04:36 PM

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