When the Indian batters walked out to bat in the second ODI against West Indies, the sight shocked the cricket fraternity as, along with captain Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant was sent to open the innings.
It was indeed a surprising move from the Indian team management as they had included vice-captain KL Rahul in the playing XI, replacing Ishan Kishan. But Rahul, who missed out on the series opener due to personal reasons, didn’t come to open the innings.
The experiment, however, didn’t work as Pant was dismissed for 18 off 34 balls. Notably, it was the first time the wicketkeeper-batter had opened for the senior men’s in ODIs. Earlier, Pant had opened the innings 11 times for India in U19 ODIs.
Indian legend Sunil Gavaskar, who was on the air, questioned the decision, asking who would be the finisher if Team India follows this template. Although, Gavaskar also analysed the intention behind the move, mentioning that it might have been done to give Pant a sense of responsibility.
“What is interesting is who is going to be the finisher? I thought they would be looking at Pant as the finisher where he has the license to throw his bat at just about every delivery he gets to face. Maybe I also think that this move gives him a sense of responsibility. We have often seen him charge down the pitch first ball and get out. So maybe sending him up the order is a way to tell him… ‘listen, we expect runs from you’. So it’s like giving him a sense of responsibility,” said Gavaskar.
The former India captain also reckoned that Pant not coming up the order in the past is because the Indian top order has been very good and consistent.
“This is the first time he has opened the batting. He has opened at four. He has got 340-odd runs. At five, he has batted most times and got two fifties. At 6, he has hardly had an opportunity, but that’s because the Indian top order has been so good and very consistent. At 5, 6 and 7, you hardly get about 7 overs or maybe less than that,” added Gavaskar.