Adelaide: Veteran wicketkeeper-batter Dinesh Karthik is yet to play an impactful knock and provide India the required finishing touches in the ongoing Men's T20 World Cup. With all his scores in the tournament till now in single digits, India tried Rishabh Pant in their final Group 2 match against Zimbabwe.
Though Pant failed to make a substantial contribution with the bat, making just three runs against Zimbabwe in Melbourne, questions have arisen over Karthik coming back in the side for the semifinal against England at Adelaide Oval on Thursday.
On the eve of the semifinal, India skipper Rohit Sharma didn't reveal who would be the keeper-batter in the eleven, but said that both Pant and Karthik are in play for the crucial match.
"Between DK and Pant, I had said before the last game as well, Rishabh was the only guy who did not get to play on this tour at all, except the two games we played at Perth (against Western Australia XI). They were unofficial practice games, but since then he hasn't had a hit.
"He was the only guy who was missing some game-time, so we wanted to give him some time and have some options as well if we want to make changes in the semifinal or final, which we should be able to do that," said Rohit in the pre-match press conference.
"It will be unfair to just bring a guy out of nowhere and make him play the game, so that was the thought. But again, we have told the guys right from the beginning that everyone needs to be ready for whichever game that they have to play, whether it is the semis, finals or league games," added the right-handed opener.
With a school of thought opining that Pant could be effective against England's off-spin and leg-spin duo of Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid in Adelaide, where the square boundaries are short, Rohit admitted that those thoughts had prompted the side to give the left-hander game time against Zimbabwe.
"It was a little tactical as well considering we were not knowing which team we would be playing in the semifinals before that Zimbabwe game. We wanted to just give the left-hander (Pant) an opportunity to counter some of those spinners who bowl in the middle for New Zealand and England.
"That was the thought, and we thought Rishabh was the guy for us to go and give him some time as well. But again, what is going to happen tomorrow, I cannot tell right now, but both of those keepers will be in play for sure."
Rohit backs Axar
Rohit further expressed confidence over Axar Patel coming good for India ahead of the semifinal, citing that the left-arm spin all-rounder is in good frame of mind. Against Netherlands, Patel bowled a brilliant spell to take 2/18 in his four overs. But against other teams in the tournament, it has been no wickets for him while conceding 63 runs in five overs.
"To be honest, not really worried, as such, because he hardly got to bowl in this tournament. Except that game against Netherlands, he's not bowled full overs of his quota, only because of the condition that has to offer. We've got four seamers who have particularly bowled all of their quotas, which means the spinners will not bowl their overs.
"If you look at the conditions, except Sydney, all the grounds we've played had a lot to offer to the seamers, which means we never got an opportunity to bowl Axar in the powerplay, which is his specialty, and honestly have not looked too much into his bowling and gotten worried about his performance because we do understand his quality and the series that we played before coming here bowled exceptionally well.
"Guys can have one bad tournament; it doesn't mean that he's out of form or not bowling well or not been able to execute plans. I thought the kind of space he's in for me that is important, and when I talked to him, when I hear his thoughts, I pretty much feel that he's in a good space, and that is exactly what we want when you're about to play a game like that," concluded Rohit.