Category Archives: IPL 2019

India against World Cup opponents Part 2

Here is the part two of the continued review of India’s world cup opponents and how India have fared against them since the last World Cup. The first part saw the reviews of South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Let’s dive into the next 3.

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Considering the recent track record India does hold the edge over Pakistan when they take them on at the Old Trafford on the 16th.

June 16, 2019 – India vs Pakistan, Old Trafford, Manchester

This is a biggie and the most anticipated clash in this World Cup. The fact that India & Pakistan do not play that often makes these encounters more special. Both teams have had a poor run into the tournament. Even though India are the number 2 side in the world, they did enter the tournament with 3 straight losses. They also lost the game against New Zealand in the warm up encounter as well. Pakistan have had it worse over the past year or so and are currently in 11 match losing streak. Even though past stats and form does not factor into India-Pakistan games, the fact is that India does hold a slight edge over their arch rivals. To top that India have never lost to Pakistan in a World Cup encounter in their history. In the last 4 years, despite that crushing loss in the Champions Trophy finals, India have a 3-1 advantage over Pakistan.

Verdict: Even though form and past results don’t matter in this historic match up, India does have a slight edge over their arch rivals and are expected to win this encounter.

June 22 – India vs Afghanistan, The Rose Bown, Southampton 

Technically when you look at this match up you should back India to comfortably put it past Afghanistan but reality is far from it. Afghanistan have just beaten Pakistan in their warm up game leading up to the tournament and the only game they have played against India over the last 4 years or so has resulted in a tie in Sharjah. Afghanistan are a much improved team and they are not a push over by any imagination. The Rose Bowl will provide great help for their spin attack and their batters will allow the pitch at Southampton. For India though this might end up being a crucial game and all said and done they are still expected to beat Afghanistan in this encounter.

Verdict: This will not be an easy game and Afghanistan is more than capable of toppling their senior Asian gurus. India though with the experience and skill in major tournament like the World Cup should be able to get it past the newbies though while it might be a banana peel game as well.

June 27 – West Indies vs India, Old Trafford, Manchester

This is yet another game which can be tricky for team India. Even though India have a 6-2 win-loss record against the Island nation, the latter have always been a tough opponent for India in the past. The West Indies team have been able to beat India in crucial games especially in T20Is recently. West Indies have their stars return to their side, Chris Gayle is back and looks in tremendous form. Andre Russell who had an amazing IPL is back in the XI as well for them. Their bowling attack with has some good pacers is something which can trouble Indian batters if the conditions are right. This will be an amazing game against an experienced team like India and a team who can be unpredictable in the way they play on a given day.

Verdict: Once again when you look at the strengths of the team you would expect India to easily go past West Indies, this will be yet another tough game for India. India in all probability should be able to put it past West Indies but again it is not going to be easy.

That ends part two of this series and with just 3 games to go, past 3 will cover the rest of the opponents. As we have seen this format of the tournament is thankless and there are no easy games. The team which sticks to their guns and does not give into the pressure will be the ones who will triumph and reach the final four.

Playing County cricket will be good for Ajinkya Rahane

 

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Ajinkya Rahane’s hundred at Lord’s was one of the best innings played by an overseas batter on a difficult wicket

pic Courtesy indiatimes.com

The year 2013 saw a young Indian team under MS Dhoni embark upon a overseas tour leg with their first stop in South Africa for a 2 Test series. The Indian team was touring for the first time with you the legendary trio of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman in the squad after a really long time. A young Virat Kohli along with Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara were the considered the lynch pins of the Indian batting on those tours.

India did not win any of the series on those tours but two players clearly emerged as the leader of Indian batting unit and Ajinkya Rahane was one of them. Rahane had a brilliant season with the bat. He scored hundreds in England, Australia and New Zealand and was brilliant in South Africa as well. In just over a year or so he had become India’s most crucial batter in the X1 along with Virat Kohli and was rightly made as the latter’s deputy when MS Dhoni called it a day midway through the Australian series.

Rahane was brilliant and with his technique against quick bowling and his naturally attacking style of play it was a joy to watch him bat on those tours. His 100 in Lord’s was one of the best batting you will see on a spiteful pitch and was a purists delight and his  147 in Melbourne against Mitchell Johnson was one finest attacking knocks you will see by an Indian batter against quick bowling overseas. Even during initial phase of his career Rahane was always a nervous starter with a slight weakness against spin. He did struggle to score runs at home and was always comfortable playing on hard fast wickets overseas. After the overseas leg was done, he had an average close to 50 and was considered one of the leading bats in the world at that time in 2015.

Fast forward to 2018, now an experienced Indian team led by Virat Kohli began yet another overseas leg. In the 3 years between the two sets of tours Ajinkya Rahane went from one of the 2 best batters in the side to being dropped for Rohit Sharma in the first two Tests of the South Africa tour. He did make a come back into the team and played few crucial knocks on all the tours but he was a pale shadow of the confident batter we saw in the 2013-15 season.

Rahane did not score a single hundred in 19 innings he played overseas since 2018 and his average of 27.94 showed the inconsistency that had crept into his batting. He struggled to convert starts and got out playing some uncharacteristic shots during that time. His Test average had dropped from something in high 40’s to just about 40 at the start of 2019. It is very hard to decipher as to how a brilliant player can regress so much in a short span of time. He wasn’t his usual self in this IPL for Rajasthan Royals as well which cost him his captaincy this season.

Ajinkya though who wasn’t picked for the World Cup in England has signed up to play for a first division county side Hampshire this season. A decision which might be god send for him in the current state of his career. Playing endless international cricket when you are not doing well cannot be good for your psyche and have some time away from the Indian team is probably what he needs right now. A good season with Hampshire away from the razzmatazz of the World Cup and media attention will be good for him to try and rediscover his magic with the bat. The responsibility of being a senior member and an overseas player for his county side is probably what is needs to get his career back on track.

Rahane is a crucial member of the Indian Test side and with the ICC Test Championship set to begin after the world cup, him being in form is crucial for the team’s success. I hope that he has a great county season. The runs he scores is not as important as the confidence he gains by playing away against some good competition and some very good bowlers. Players in the past have benefited a lot by playing in England and if he uses this chance well, he can also do so and return as the confident player he once was for India in Tests. India begin the Test Championship in August with a 2 Test series in West Indies and he along with Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara will be once again the batting leaders guiding the young players around them.

Focus now on the World Cup as IPL season comes to an end

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Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri will shift their focus to the world cup as the IPL has now come to an end.

Mumbai Indians beat Chennai Super Kings in the IPL finals to clinch the title for the fourth time and the result meant that an incredible close competition came to an end with a huge drama. This also means that with the IPL coming to an end, the focus of the fans and the cricket team squarely back on the World Cup 2019 to be held in England early next month.

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India will be hoping that Kedar Jadhav will recover in time for the World Cup as his replacement isn’t straightforward

The Indian squad had been already announced and it was nice to see that most of the players picked had a reasonably good IPL. The players also looked fit except for few niggles and were in good form by the end of the tournament. The only concern for India right now will be the fitness of Kedar Jadhav. Jadhav is part of Indian World Cup squad and has been a regular fixture in the Indian team over the last few years.

There hasn’t been much news about how his injury is progressing even though it does seem like the management is confident that he will be fit for the marquee tournament. If India are to look for a replacement, the front runners are obviously Rishabh Pant and Ambati Rayudu. Both the players who were left out of the initial 15 announced by the selectors last month. While Ambati Rayudu has played a lot of games for India over the past year the cries for inclusion of Rishabh Pant has never been louder after the youngster once again had a good IPL this season. The biggest problem for India is that neither of these two players provide India with a bowling option which Kedar does in ODIs.

The selection committee will have to weigh in the options and need to make the right decision if at all it comes down to finding a replacement for Kedar Jadhav. It will be unfortunate for Jadhav if he had to miss out due to injury as this may be his final chance to represent India in a 50 over World Cup. The rest of the squad though looked in prime fitness and also looked in good form.

Shikhar Dhawan who was having an indifferent 2019 had a very good IPL for Delhi Capitals. Rohit Sharma once again had a 400+ season, even though he could have been more consistent for his title winning side. Even though Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore once again failed to make the play-offs, he had a good season with the bat with 464 runs. MS Dhoni had a brilliant season behind the stumps and with the bat for Chennai Super Kings.

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Kuldeep Yadav’s bowling form will be a concern for India but again IPL format is different and he is India’s best ODI spinner

The bowlers except for Kuldeep Yadav had a fantastic IPL. Yuzvendra Chahal was brilliant for RCB and Ravindra Jadeja did his bit for CSK with both bat and ball. Jasprit Bumrah was once again in his elements for MI with wickets as well as his economy rate and once again proved why he is India’s spearhead in all formats. The two bowlers India will be concerned about is Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Kuldeep Yadav. Both of them did not have a good tournament this time around and struggled to pick wickets. Even though there is no doubting their skill, India will be hoping that the change of format might help them gain their form back. Mohammad Shami was fantastic for Kings X1 Punjab and looked fit through the season.

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Hardik Pandya was brilliant for Mumbai Indians in this IPL

The biggest gain for India in this IPL was the form of Hardik Pandya. Pandya had been missing in action for India due to non-cricketing reasons earlier this year and he showed why India need him in the team for the world cup. He was brilliant with the bat for Mumbai Indians at crucial times in this season and was good with the ball as well picking 14 wickets. He will be the crucial cog for India in this world cup and will provide us with the X-Factor in the X1.

The selectors will be keeping a close eye on Kedar Jadhav and will have to announce a replacement soon as India will be playing their first warm up game against New Zealand on the 25th at the Kennington Oval, London which is just over 10 days away.

India’s World Cup Schedule:

May 25 – India vs New Zealand (Warm Up)
May 28 – India vs Bangladesh (Warm Up)
Jun 05 – South Africa vs India
Jun 09 – India vs Australia
Jun 13 – India vs New Zealand
Jun 16 – India vs Pakistan
Jun 22 – India vs Afghanistan
Jun 27 – Windies vs India
Jun 30 – England vs India
Jul 02 – Bangladesh Vs India
Jul 06 – Sri Lanka vs India

I will be doing a two part blog later going over India’s opponents and how India have done against them since the last world cup.

Eliminator 2 – Chennai Super Kings Vs Delhi Capitals

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Despite their indifferent season Chennai Super Kings will start as favourites against Delhi Capitals

Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Delhi Capitals (DC) with take on each other at Visakhapatnam tonight for a spot in the IPL finals. They will be meeting Mumbai Indians in the finals on Sunday. Both teams had a good league phase as they both finished on an identical 18 points. Delhi Capitals who began the season with some inconsistent performances finally found their mettle towards the latter half to reach the play-offs after 7 years. By beating Sun Risers Hyderabad in the first eliminator they also completed another first by winning their first knockout IPL game ever.

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Delhi Capitals will hope that they can show enough mental fortitude to pull one through against CSK

DC have a strong team. Their batting led by Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant has been firing and their bowling with Ishant Sharma and Kagiso Rabada did very well during the league phase. Even though they are missing Rabada for the play-offs they have a world class replacement in Trent Boult who has had a good couple of games. The addition of Keemo Paul and Sherfane Rutherford also has given them a good balance which they were missing early in the tournament. Prithvi Shaw who seemed checked out after a great start to the season came back some sort of a rhythm in the eliminator 1 with a fifty and Rishabh Pant looked in fine touch with a match winning 49.

For CSK though batting has been their achilles heel throughout the season. Their opening combination barring couple of games has struggled and Shane Watson on whom the team had put lots of faith hasn’t really repaid them with performances. Suresh Raina has once again done well without being spectacular and apart from MS Dhoni the rest of the batting has simply struggled. The bowling has done well especially on slow Chennai wickets but again they haven’t tried anything different even when they have been on the road except for few games here and there. For CSK to be competitive they need to have their batting firing for them to have a chance against a good DC unit.

Head to Head:

Chennai Super Kings have had the wood over Delhi Capitals over the years. They have beaten DC twice already this season and they have an overall record of 13-6 against DC in IPL.

Key Players:

MS Dhoni (CSK) – There isn’t a player who is more important to a franchise than MSD is for Chennai Super Kings. CSK have shown that during this season where they have struggled to win without their captain in the helm. MSD has been their best batter this season and has already scored 405 runs at an average of 135. He will once again be crucial for the men in yellow.

Imran Tahir (CSK) – Tahir has been the constant for CSK this season while they have rotated their other spinners around. Tahir has had a wonderful season so far and is currently second in the list of highest wicket takers behind Kagiso Rabada. With an economy rate of 6.62, he has not only picked up wickets but also has been tough to get away in the middle overs.

Shikhar Dhawan (DC) – Delhi Capitals have never been in this situation before. With a chance now to reach the finals and go all they way, they would his experience to guide them. Dhawan after an indifferent start has had a good season with the bat. He has scored 503 runs so far and will be expected to guide a young team in the all important clash.

Rishabh Pant (DC) – Rishabh Pant will always remain DC’s talisman in any game they play in IPL. He showed in a tight game in the Play-Offs how destructive he can be and how he can change the course of the game in a short span of time. He once again will be crucial in the middle overs against CSK’s spinners as he can easily break open the game with few big hits.

This will be a really mouth watering contest. Probably last season I wouldn’t have given DC any chance against CSK in a play-off game but again this time, the latter haven’t been at their best throughout. DC have the bowling and the firepower in the batting to pull this through but again I just feel CSK just has enough experience to pull this through.

Probable Playing X1’s:

CSK X1 – Shane Watson, Faf Du Plessis, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni (C & WK), M Vijay, Ambati Rayudu, Dwayne Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja, Scott kuggeleijn/Mitchell Santner, Deepak Chahar, Imran Tahir

DC X1 – Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer (C), Rishabh Pant (WK), Colin Munro, Axar Patel, Sherfane Rutherford, Keemo Paul, Amit Mishra, Ishant Sharma, Trent Boult

Quotes:

“We need to have more balance in the first six – around 40 would be nice. That may get you to a score of 150-160 which can be a match-winning score. We’re just falling behind at different stages but it’s the first six that’s holding us back when we lose wickets. Maybe in case we just throw the shackles off and have a crack in the next game and see if we can just get ourselves into form and confidence,” – Stephen Fleming

“It’s not about who we’re playing, it’s about how our preparations are. And we’re really looking forward to it and hope we do what we’ve done earlier” – Prithvi Shaw

Eliminator 1 Preview – Delhi Capitals Vs Sunrisers Hyderabad

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Shreyas Iyer (Left) and Rishabh Pant (Right) will be crucial for Delhi Capitals in their Eliminator clash against SRH

Delhi Capitals will be wondering what they are doing in the first eliminator after a stellar league phase finishing on 18 points. That’s how good the competition has been this season. Both Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians beat them by just a smidgen to get to the top of the table. This means that DC will take on Sun Risers Hyderabad who have qualified for the play-offs by skin of their teeth. Both teams have had their issues but in this encounter, Delhi Capitals surely start as the overwhelming favourites.

DC’s batting is more settled and their bowling attack has been doing well throughout. Even though missing the purple cap holder Kagiso Rabada will be a huge blow for them, they still have the bowlers to cause trouble to the struggling SRH batting line up. Trent Boult had a good game against Rajasthan Royals and with Ishant Sharma bowling brilliantly with the new ball they have a good attack which can be hand full on their day. The batting has always been DC’s strength though. Their captain Shreyas Iyer has been in great form throughout and even though Rishabh Pant has been inconsistent, he can on his day turn any match on its head. With the experience of Shikhar Dhawan at the top, DC have almost all bases covered and are probably one of the most stable sides of the tournament.

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SunRisers Hyderabad will rely on their bowling attack and runs from their captain in their crucial clash against Delhi Capitals

For SRH though, things haven’t been that rosy. They have qualified for the play-offs on 12 points which is the lowest in the history of the IPL so far. Their batting was dragged along by David Warner and Jonny Bairstow through the season and they have struggled for runs since their departure. Their Captain Kane Williamson had a very good game against Royal Challengers Bangalore but again they would need contributions from rest of the batting to put pressure on DC. With Khaleel Ahmed with the new ball along with Bhuvneshwar Kumar, their bowling though has looked good but once again their trump card will be Rashid Khan. He has been their go to bowler this season as well and once again will be crucial in the eliminator.

Key Players:

Shreyas Iyer (DC) – The captain of Delhi Capitals has been the linchpin of their batting through the season. He has scored 442 runs this season and has been the cool head in the middle overs guiding the team through some important phases of the game. He will once again be important not only with his batting but also with his captaincy in the field.

Rishabh Pant (DC) – Pant has had a frustrating series with the bat. When you look at his numbers (401 runs at 36 at a SR of 157), it does not look bad but again his temperament has come into question a few times. He does bring an X-Factor to Delhi batting though. If he gets going, it will be difficult for the opposition to stop. DC will be hoping that he has a good day.

Kane Williamson (SRH) – Williamson by his standards has had a very poor season. The 70 runs he scored against RCB was his first 50 of the season which has been very ordinary. Williamson though is a very good captain and he had led SRH to an IPL final last year and his leadership along with some runs at the top will be crucial for SRH to put up a fighting total.

Rashid Khan (SRH) – Rashid is second in the list of wicket takers for SRH but once again he will be the crucial cog in their bowling arsenal this evening. He bowls majority of his overs in the middle phase of the game and picking up wickets during that time will be crucial in restricting DC to a manageable score.

This will be an interesting game and even though Delhi will start as the favourites, we need to keep in mind that they have never won a play-off game yet. They will be under tremendous pressure to achieve what they haven’t in 12 years of this competition. For SRH though they have won IPL before and they were the finalists last year as well. This will be a close game but I feel that DC just has the edge to pull through this one. DC might play the same XI they played in their last league game but SRH might make couple of changes based on the surface.

Possible XI:

Delhi Capitals – Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer (C), Rishabh Pant (WK), Colin Ingram, Sherfane Rutherford, Axar Patel, Keemo Paul, Amit Mishra, Ishant Sharma, Trent Boult.

Sun Risers Hyderabad – Martin Guptill, Wriddhiman Saha (WK), Manish Pandey, Kane Williamson (C), Vijay Shankar, Yusuf Pathan, Mohammad Nabi/Billy Stanlake, Rashid Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Khaleel Ahmed, Basil Thampi/Siddarth Kaul

Quotes:

“We have to take the confidence from our win against them in Hyderabad. They also beat us in Delhi, so both the teams are fairly confident, and it is going to be a tough match. However, they are also missing some of their players, and we are without Kagiso now, so it is going to be a difficult task as well, but a well-matched encounter” – Shreyas Iyer, Delhi Capitals captain

Qualifier 1 Preview – CSK Vs MI

 

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Mumbai Indians will start as the favourites tonight in their crucial encounter against Chennai Super Kings

So after 56 games with 8 teams battling out for 4 spots in the play-offs, we are finally in the business end of the IPL 2019. Chennai Super Kings will take on Mumbai Indians in the first qualifier later today in the MA Chidambaram Stadium,Chennai. Mumbai Indians have been the team to beat this year. They have qualified at the top of the points table after the league stage and possibly have the best balanced side of the competition this year.

Their bowling has been brilliant throughout with Lasith Malinga and Jasprith Bumrah leading the attack and the batting has come to its own at the latter half of the tournament. Rohit Sharma and Suryakumar Yadav batted well and look in good form going into the play-off. They have beaten Chennai Super Kings in both the games this season and will start as favourites for tonight’s encounter. For CSK though the sailing hasn’t been as smooth. Despite being one of the top sides of the season, they haven’t quite performed as a team this season. Their batting has been a suspect and MS Dhoni has been the talisman who has dragged them to victories in some crucial games in the league stage.

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CSK will be hoping that their batters finally click in the all important game against MI tonight

Shane Watson except for the one innings has struggled and the rest have been inconsistent which makes their task much harder in the play-offs. The bowling though has done well especially at home with Imran Tahir being their chief wrecker. The biggest advantage though for CSK is that they are playing at home where they have been brilliant again this season. Their only loss though has come against Mumbai Indian whom they will be facing off in the play-offs tonight.

Key Players:

MS Dhoni (CSK) – There is no bigger player in the CSK camp at the moment than the captain himself. CSK have struggled in games when the captain has been absent and his performance on the field and the bat will be crucial for the success of the team. He so far has been brilliant and has scored 368 runs at an average of 122 with a brilliant SR of 139.92. He will for sure be the key player for the home side.

Imran Tahir (CSK) – Tahir has been the go to bowler for MS Dhoni throughout this season. He has been brilliant at home and in away games for CSK. He has been economical and has also picked up wickets at crucial moments for his side this season. He is currently second in the list of highest wicket takers this season with 21 wickets with a brilliant economy rate of just 6.5. On a slow Chennai pitch, he will be crucial in the middle overs.

Hardik Pandya (MI) – For MI this season, even though Quinton De Kock and Keiron Pollard have played some brilliant knocks, it has been Pandya who has been the X-Factor for them this season. He has scored 380 runs at a SR of 198 so far and will be crucial for them once again in the play-offs.

Lasith Malinga & Jasprith Bumrah (MI) – These two have been so brilliant this season with the ball that it is hard to separate them. Both Bumrah and Malinga have been hard to get away this season and they have also picked wickets at crucial stages through out. They have taken 32 wickets between them and have been fantastic at the death.

This game will be a cracker and both the teams playing tonight have won the IPL three times each. The advantage of finishing in the top 2 means, both these teams will get another crack at making the finals even if they lose tonight but that will be the last thing on their minds at the moment. Even though Mumbai Indians start as the favourites for this game, MS Dhoni & CSK cannot be written off in an important game like this. Don’t see many changes in the XI’s of both sides but due to injury, CSK have to look for replacement for Kedar Jadhav. For MI though they have been unlucky with the pace bowling stocks but for Chennai, they might need an additional spinner. They might bring back Mayank Markande in the XI for today.

 

Is Rishabh Pant getting pigeonholed into a finisher role?

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Ever since the Indian World Cup squad was announced, the one thing which has been in constant discussion is the omission of Rishabh Pant from the 15. Yes there have been talks about Ambati Rayudu missing out as well but Pant has been the favourite for everyone and the noise has only got louder. I agree that Pant is an amazing talent. A supremely talented batter who has impressed one and all within just a year of playing Test cricket but his omission is valid for what the team management is scouting for.

Pant is a brilliant young player and for sure is the future of Indian batting in all formats.  The one thing though I am not that convinced about is everyone trying to fit him into a finisher role. A finisher role in LO format requires two completely different skill set to be effective. One while batting first providing the required impetus to get the team to a good total and two is while chasing playing at a right pace to finish games for your side. While I agree that Pant can easily fit into the former when the team is batting first , he I am afraid is not there yet as a finisher while chasing.

While Pant is the replacement for Dhoni in the limited overs format, we should not take it literally and expect him to do what Dhoni does so effectively. Dhoni was different, when he came in, it felt as though he was always meant to be a finisher. Within a year he was winning games for the country chasing some big totals with mature head on his shoulders. Pant isn’t there yet and needs time before he can get there.

That’s the reason I feel he missed out on the selection as well for the World Cup. In the current scenario, the best value you can get of him in the LO format is at the top of the order. He can bat at number 4 or even open the batting in the future. Effectively he can be the floater in the batting line up can be used based on the situation of the game. That will give him the freedom to go after the bowling without the pressures of trying to preserve his wicket. He is just 21 and trying to pigeonhole him into a role where he isn’t that comfortable yet is completely destroying his potential and his ability to effectively contribute to the team’s success. While the experts are right about his potential their premise for the argument is wrong. We could see the effect of the same in the recently concluded Australian series where he was trying things he wasn’t comfortable doing. We need to give him space and provide him with the freedom to express himself as we have done in the Test format.

I am not saying Pant can never be a finisher in ODIs, he will get there in the future, but he isn’t there yet.