Former Indian opener-turned commentator Aakash Chopra has called for the inclusion of dynamic wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant in the Indian team in all three formats of the game.
Pant, who has established himself as a certainty in the Test team due to his exploits in recent Tests against Australia and England, has not played a white-ball game for India since the ODI series against Australia on home soil.
Rishabh Pant did not get a single game in the eight white-ball fixtures (5 T20Is + 3 ODIs) during the tour of New Zealand last year and was dropped from the set-up for the limited-overs leg of the Australian series with the management persisting with Shreyas Iyer and Sanju Samson in the shortest format of the game.
Speaking in a recent video on his official Facebook channel, Aakash Chopra termed Rishabh Pant as a ‘game-changer’. The former opener called for KL Rahul to open and for Pant’s inclusion in the middle-order in the T20I playing 11, adding that the trio of Pant-Jadeja-Pandya gives India the firepower that they need in T20I cricket.
“I will be very excited to see Rishabh Pant in all three formats. Don’t believe that he is a finished product; he is not. It will take him time to become a finished product and to do well as a keeper. But let’s start looking at Rishabh Pant as a package,” said Chopra.
“If you are making KL Rahul bat at No.5 or No.6 in ODIs and T20Is, I would say that you should make KL Rahul to open, and you should set Rishabh Pant somehow in the middle because you want to see Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja batting together. If they do that, your statute grows, as you get the firing power,” added Aakash Chopra.
‘He is a game-changer’- Aakash Chopra on Rishabh Pant
Aakash Chopra has also called for the inclusion of Rishabh Pant in the ODI set-up, stating that the dynamic batsman is a game-changer. He, however, admitted that Team India will persist with Shikhar Dhawan at the opening spot in 50-over cricket, adding that in that scenario, Shreyas Iyer might have to make way for Pant, given that KL Rahul is a certainty since he is the first-choice keeper.
“There is no doubt that you will open with Shikhar Dhawan in ODI cricket at the moment. You can play one out of Rahul and Shreyas Iyer. Rahul is going to play; pressure is going to get created on Shreyas Iyer,” said Aakash Chopra
“You should keep Pant in the team, and when you get the opportunity, you should include him because he is a game-changer; that doesn’t change. Your basic quality doesn’t change, and he keeps reminding us repeatedly that we need to be patient,” added Chopra.
Speaking of Rishabh Pant’s record in white-ball cricket, the Delhi swashbuckler has thus far featured in 16 ODIs and 27 T20Is, in which he has scored 374 and 410 runs respectively at an average of 26.71 and 20.5.