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World Cup 2019 squad: Did selectors blunder by ignoring Rishabh Pant? | Cricket News

MUMBAI: Rishabh Pant‘s non-inclusion in the 15-member squad for the upcoming World Cup has given the feeling that the Indian cricket board, its senior selectors and all those involved in the selection, have taken one step forward and two steps back.


In ignoring 21-year-old Pant, BCCI hasn’t just denied a young talent of an opportunity he deserved but has also opted to do away with the only batsman who could have provided the team with a pinch-hitting option anywhere in the batting order.

TOI can confirm that a majority of the selectors wanted Pant in the team. In not picking the youngster, India’s World Cup campaign has put itself up for questioning, should the No. 4 conundrum hurt them.

READ ALSO: In World Cup race, Dinesh Karthik trumps Rishabh Pant

The selection meeting went on for close to 90 minutes and for the entire first half of the meeting, there appeared unanimity over Pant, until “one individual thought otherwise”, say sources privy to the meeting. “He had strong support from a senior team member and then the line of discussion began to change.”

Whose decision was it to not select Pant? Nobody in the BCCI is answering the question right now. Certain members of the team management had wanted Pant in the team for the following reasons: A) Pant was expected to fill India’s No. 4 slot and cushion the lower middle-order with some aggressive run making. B) Should either of the openers, specifically Shikhar Dhawan, suffer an injury or dip in form, Pant was seen as an option who could provide the team with the aggression. C) Regardless of MS Dhoni’s presence, Pant was expected to play in the eleven as a batsman. D) Pant is clearly the cricketer of tomorrow, dropped at the cost of others who’ve wasted multiple opportunities over the years.

The selectors erred on all three counts and instead decided to go ahead with the following options: A) Dinesh Karthik – who has 91 matches to show in 15 years of One-day cricket and just 1738 runs at an average of 31; B) KL Rahul – who suffered a terrible 2018 despite sufficient opportunities; C) Vijay Shankar – who has played just four more One-dayers than Pant, and one who clearly doesn’t put India’s No. 4 dilemma to rest.

Incidentally, skipper Kohli too was 21 years of age when former India chief selector Dilip Vengsarkar decided to blood him along with a legendary team that walked away with the 2011 trophy. “The irony is, now you put all the selectors together and they collectively don’t match the stature of Dilip. You see the existing quality in the thought-processes?” say those in the team management who expected Pant’s name to be read out on Monday.

Interestingly, the BCCI had included Pant in its list of Grade ‘A’ contracted players just recently. “And now, within weeks, they’ve demoralized a 21-year-old,” sources said.

While cricket priorities have obviously been ignored, the bigger question facing the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (COA) is if there was any “outside influence” that kept Pant out. “At some point in time, this question will come up. Whose decision was it to not select Pant? It’s a question that every single individual who had a role to play on April 15 (when team was selected) will have to answer. This is not ending anytime soon,” sources said.

From Sourav Ganguly to Virender Sehwag, Ricky Ponting and more, several former legends had opined that Pant should make it to the World Cup team. In fact, Ponting even said that Pant should bat at No.4.

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