India had a disastrous start to their Border-Gavaskar Trophy defense against Australia and they would definitely like to bounce back.
Keeping that in mind, former spinner-turned-commentator Murali Kartik has suggested that the tourists play Rishabh Pant as a specialist batsman given that he can be the 'X-factor' India needs in the Boxing Day Test (December 26) in Melbourne.
Team India suffered a horrifying 8-wicket defeat against Australia in the first Day-Night Test of the four-Test series in Adelaide and now the absence of Virat Kohli in the remaining 3 matches will only make things difficult for the tourists on the tour.
Given the situation, Kartik, former Indian spinner, has suggested India can play both Pant and Wriddhiman Saha in the second Test to strengthen their batting in Kohli's absence.
He picked Pant over KL Rahul since the Karnataka batsman has not played a Test match since August last year, while the young wicket-keeper batsman played an unbeaten knock of 103 in a D/N practice game.
He believes that Pant has an ‘X-factor’ in his batting and can produce results for the Indian cricket team without excluding Saha from his wicket-keeping position in the line-up. He also feels Ajinkya Rahane should promote himself up the order and bat at no.4 in Kohli's absence.
Kartik said on Sony Sports Network: “One more thing that can happen is that Ajinkya Rahane who plays up the order in first-class cricket can himself come at No. 4 because of the forced change. You can use Rishabh Pant just as a batsman with the X-factor.”
He explained, “Everyone is seeing KL Rahul’s form but when he was left out of the Test team, it was because of his Test form. Now he came back to the team because of other things. When someone sees the recent form, they feel he is in form.
So, these things will have to be seen with interest. Rishabh Pant has not done anything wrong as a batsman so you can play him as a batsman and don’t take the gloves from Wriddhiman Saha. So, that can also happen. It all depends on their thinking.”
However, Kartik believes that the Indian team management should look for a replacement for out-of-form Prithvi Shaw for the second Test against Australia having already suffered a massive defeat.
The commentator continued, “But it depends on Prithvi Shaw, who was looking that he is not in form, but the team management did the right thing by giving him the first chance. He had done well in the last Test match he played. Everyone was seeing that he did not score runs in the IPL and wanted him to be kept out, but they did not do that.
But in this match, he didn't look confident at all. So, will you want to put him under pressure again or want to bring a fresh player who does not have that issue?”
According to ANI, India will not have the services of pacer Mohammad Shami for the remaining Test matches on the Australia tour, as the speedster has been ruled out of the Test series after suffering a fracture on his arm in Adelaide.
The source told ANI about Shami: “Yes, he has a fracture and that is why he could not grip the bat and lift it at the crease. It looked bad and the worst fear has come true.”
(With ANI Inputs)