Former Sri Lanka skipper Mahela Jayawardene backed Indian wicketkeeper-batter Rishabh Pant to open the batting order for India in T20Is.
The Indian team have explored various opening combinations and No.3 in their last few bilateral series. Captain Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul opened the batting order in the T20 World Cup last year and followed the same in the New Zealand T20I series.
Should Rishabh Pant open in T20Is?
With Rahul’s injuries keeping him out of the action for more than eight months, Ishan Kishan and Ruturaj Gaikwad got their opportunity at the top. The duo opened together for India in the five-match T20I series against South Africa. Ishan paired with Rohit to open the innings in the first T20I against England, while wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant joined the Indian skipper in the last two games.
India saw an unlikely opener in the face of Suryakumar Yadav during the West Indies T20I series. Many experts criticised the Indian team management for changing Suryakumar’s batting position. It was Shreyas Iyer and Ishan opening the order in the final T20I.
Virat Kohli, Iyer, and Deepak Hooda are the contenders to bat at No.3 with Suryakumar most likely to bat at No.4.
Rishabh Pant has the capacity to open the batting: Mahela Jayawardene
Although Pant has just opened the innings for India twice Jayawardene, Jayawardene believes the Indian gloveman has the calibre to bat at the top.
“Even though he (Pant) hasn’t done that (open the batting) much in domestic cricket, he has the capacity to do that. Wherever he bats, you’re not going to change his game. He is going to be a very natural player so yes, it is an option (for Pant to open),” Jayawardene said on the ICC Review.
Pant is part of India’s Asia Cup 2022 squad and is likely to play as the first-choice wicketkeeper in the team. India play their first game of the continental tournament against arch-rivals Pakistan at Dubai International Cricket Stadium.