For India's Men's T20 World Cup semifinal against England at Adelaide Oval on November 10, former India head coach Ravi Shastri claimed he would start youthful Rishabh Pant instead of the seasoned Dinesh Karthik, emphasising the x-factor brought in by the left-hander.
Karthik has been India's go-to finisher in the competition as a wicketkeeper and all-round specialist. However, Pant was chosen over Karthik for their final Super 12 game against Zimbabwe in Melbourne on Sunday.
Pant played a flat slog-sweep off Sean Williams in the 14th over of his opening game of the competition. Pant's stay was cut short at three runs when Ryan Burl made a full-speed move to his left from long-on and threw himself in for a spectacular diving catch.
"Dinesh is a great member of the team. But considering England's or New Zealand's attack, I believe you need a strong left-hander who can switch it on, is a match-winner, and is a left-hander when it comes to a game against them."
"He performed brilliantly when facing England. He recently defeated England in a one-day game on his own and won (125 not out in Manchester). I would choose Pant because of the x-factor he can bring to the semifinal, not only because he participated here "After the game, Shastri stated.
Shastri noted how the young player can be useful in generating runs for the side through short, square boundaries in Adelaide and against an England bowling attack full of variety in the fast and spin bowling departments. Head coach Rahul Dravid stated in the post-match press conference that the Indian team has never lost faith in Pant's abilities.
"Another reason a left-hander should be present to thwart the England attack is that you are playing in Adelaide, where the square has short boundaries. If there are too many right-handers, everything starts to feel the same."
"England have a nice attack, a varied attack of left-handers and right-handers. You need a left-hander in your team, who can be dangerous and win you a game in the back overs even if you have lost 3 or 4 wickets at the top," he added.