‘If Rishabh Pant is fit on even one leg…’: Sunil Gavaskar picks him ahead of KL Rahul in India’s T20 World Cup squad | Cricket News

NEW DELHI: KL Rahul could serve as a promising wicketkeeper-batter option for India in the 2024 T20 World Cup. Nonetheless, Rishabh Pant should be the preferred choice if he is fit enough to play, reckons legendary cricketer Sunil Gavaskar.
Jitesh Sharma and Sanju Samson were chosen by the selectors as the two wicketkeeper-batters in India’s 16-member squad for the upcoming T20I series against Afghanistan.Rishabh Pant wasn’t available for selection due to ongoing recovery from injuries after a near fatal car crash in December 2022, and KL Rahul was not included in the squad despite being available for consideration.During an interaction on the Star Sports show ‘Game Plan,’ when asked about the possibility of KL Rahul playing the role of a middle-order wicketkeeper-batter in the 2024 T20 World Cup, Gavaskar opined his first choice would be Pant since he is a game-changer.
“I see him (Rahul) as a wicketkeeper as well but I will say one thing before that – if Rishabh Pant is fit on even one leg, he should come in the team because he is a game-changer in every format. If I am the selector, I will put his name first,” Gavaskar said.
Gavaskar further explained that if Pant is unavailable then Rahul is a perfect option as it will create a balance and you can use him as an opener as well as in the middle order too.
“However, if Rishabh Pant is unavailable and KL Rahul keeps wickets, it will be good because the balance will also get created. Then you have the option to play him as an opener or use him in the middle order as a finisher at No. 5 or No. 6,” Gavaskar added.
Praising Rahul, Gavaskar said that earlier he used to be a reluctant wicketkeeper but now he is a proper wicketkeeper.
“He is an all-rounder and he has improved his wicketkeeping so much. When he used to keep earlier, he was probably a slightly reluctant wicketkeeper, a keeper you could just manage with, but now he is a proper wicketkeeper,” Gavaskar said.
When asked further whether the IPL 2024 could play a role in determining India’s preferred wicketkeeper-batter for the T20 World Cup, considering options like Jitesh, Rahul and Pant.
“Competition between players is good. All three players are good. We have seen Jitesh Sharma. He is an impressive striker and finisher. In T20 cricket, wicketkeepers usually stay back and are rarely close to the stumps. So even if you don’t have that much wicketkeeping prowess but have batting and form, you can come in the team,” Gavaskar said.
Apart from Jitesh, Rahul, and Pant, players like Samson and Ishan Kishan could also be contenders for the wicketkeeper-batter’s position in the T20 World Cup.
The final selection will likely depend on players’ form, fitness, and performances in various competitions, including the IPL, as selectors assess the best combination for the team.

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