Former India pacer Ashish Nehra has batted for young wicketkeeper batsman Rishabh Pant’s inclusion in India’s World Cup squad. He feels Pant has quite a few qualities in him to merit a place in the team for the mega event, scheduled to take place in England and Wales from May 30.
"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," Nehra told PTI on Thursday.
The Delhi pacer, who was part of the World Cup winning team in 2011, also singled out the reasons to pick Pant.
"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," Nehra said.
"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," he added.
The third reason mentioned by Nehra was Pant's ability to hit effortless sixes from the outset.
"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 said.
And last but not the least, Nehra felt Pant has shown the ability to win matches singlehandedly.
"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.
"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," Nehra remarked.
Reports claim that the upcoming ODI series against Australia will be an indicator as to who among Pant and Dinesh Karthik will board the World Cup flight as a specialist-batsman-cum-second-wicketkeeper.
"As I have already said, Rishabh could also be your third opener, so DK (as Karthik is referred to) could be your middle order batter," he said.
When asked if it is wise to pick three keepers in the squad, Nehra said: "I don't look at it from that perspective. If Rishabh and DK are being picked ahead of specialist batsmen like Manish Pandey and Shreyas Iyer, then you are looking at them as specialist batsmen.”
"So why complicate the thought process. As it is we have the peerless MS Dhoni behind stumps so treat both as specialist batsmen," he concluded.
(With PTI inputs)