Former cricketer Mohammad Kaif feels that wicketkeeper batter Rishabh Pant will be a certainty in India’s squad for the upcoming T20 World Cup. The southpaw has been going through a rough patch with an underwhelming IPL season followed by the T20I series against South Africa. Pant has scored just 58 runs at an average of 14.50 in five-match series against Proteas. While his strike rate of 105.45 has also been a big concern for the hosts.
However, head coach Rahul Dravid said that the stand-in captain for South Africa series is still “an integral part” of Team India in the shortest format of the game.
The Men in Blue have yet not finalized their squad for the upcoming T20 World Cup as players like Ishan Kishan and Dinesh Karthik are knocking on the selectors’ door, while young guns like Umran Malik are waiting in the queue to get an opportunity to showcase their talent.
Kaif said the upcoming T20I series against England will be crucial for Pant to cement his place in the T20 World Cup squad.
“He will be in the squad (for the Men’s T20 World Cup). But the England tour will be crucial as an individual, you want to come back into form sooner rather than later because very crucial months are coming up, like the World Cup in October and you want to see Rishabh Pant firing and playing at his best,” said Kaif in a virtual interaction organised by Sony Sports.
The three-match T20I series will be played on July 7, 9 and 10 in Southampton, Birmingham and Nottingham. Pant had an underwhelming show with Delhi Capitals this year as he scored just 340 runs in 14 matches and failed to guide them to the playoffs.
Kaif said that Pant has got the X-factor and which India need for the mega T20 event.
“In the World Cup (squad), still got a couple of months. Rishabh Pant has been doing a great job for India. Right now, his form is probably not the greatest. He’s got the x-factor, and skill to do well for India. He’s done that already in his small career for India,” he added.
Kaif, who played 125 ODIs and 13 Tests for India, said that with age by his side Pant has a long way to go and he has got the backing from the team management.
“He’s still learning as he’s 24, so he’s got a long, long way to go, something which Rahul Dravid said that as you want to have players with character and skills who can win the game for India. Pant has done that for India; he’s got the belief, confidence and backing from the management.”