Ind Vs SA: Rishabh Pant or KL Rahul? India coach reveals big selection decision

Ind Vs SA: Rishabh Pant or KL Rahul? India coach reveals big selection decision, T20 WORLD CUP SATURDAY 29 OCTOBER. Could India make a change at the top of the order for the Group 2 meeting with South Africa? Today Press Confresh by India batting coach Vikram Rathour. All the Clear Decide from Rishabh Pant or KL Rahul?

India batting coach Vikram Rathour has addressed the big selection debate ahead of the standout Group 2 game in Perth on Sunday. New Zealand vs Sri Lanka ICC T20 World Cup 22: NZ won by 65 runs

Two wins from two have India sitting pretty at the top of their Super 12 group, a point ahead of Sunday’s opponents South Africa.

The teams are ranked first and third in the world respectively in the latest MRF Tyres ICC Men’s T20I Team Rankings, meaning the Perth meeting is the highest-quality match on paper of all the group fixtures of this T20 World Cup. And as such, now is the time to pick the strongest XIs.

India’s success in T20I cricket over the past year has been built on ruthless selection and clear thinking in terms of the batting order.

No one decision illustrates that strategy more than Dinesh Karthik’s return behind the stumps and as a designated finisher in the batting line-up at the expense of Rishabh Pant.

Pant is one of the best T20 batters in the world, a rock of a top or middle-order player, capable of building match-winning contributions and anchoring a team’s innings.

His explosive style in the longer formats gives a slightly misleading impression when translated to T20I cricket though. Particularly in international T20s, Pant has struggled to score at an electric pace, with a strike rate of 127.45 across his 52 T20I innings to-date.

In contrast, Karthik – who has joined Hardik Pandya in a powerful lower middle-order in the India batting line-up – has a career T20I strike rate of 145.98.

For the role India need to be filled, Karthik is the better fit.

In Pant’s case that means he is now competing for one of the top four slots. Suryakumar Yadav is a lock at four given his stunning form, and Virat Kohli has shown why he’s been continuously preferred at three.

So if Pant wants a place in the team it’ll be as an opener. And that is where the discussion has been surrounding his possible selection for the South Africa match, with pundits such as Sunil Gavaskar raising the debate.

KL Rahul is the player Pant could potentially replace, with the right-hander returning two single-figure scores in the opening T20 World Cup matches, 4 against Pakistan and 9 against Netherlands.

Rahul had looked to have discovered a bit of form in the run-up to the tournament, hitting 57 against Australia in the final warm-up game, and 74 against a Western Australia XI in the prior match. He also bagged back-to-back 50s against South Africa in the recent T20I series between the two nations.

But Rahul’s early T20 World Cup returns haven’t come out of nowhere. His overall form in 2022 has not been strong in this international format.

In 12 full T20Is in 2022, Rahul has scored 319 runs at an average of 29 and a strike rate of 125.12. And those disappointing numbers only get worse when looking at his figures away from home conditions.

But that run of form leading into the tournament is still at the forefront of the selectors’ minds, and coach Rathour directly answered a question about the Pant vs KL debate in the pre-match media conference.

“We’re not really thinking that; two games, I don’t think that’s a good enough sample size anyways,” Rathour said. “He’s been batting really well and he’s batted really well in the practice games, also, so we’re not looking at any such thing at the moment.

“Only 11 can play unfortunately and I know and understand Rishabh is a fantastic player and we know he can be destructive against any opposition,” he added.

“The message to him is to be ready and your chance might come anytime. He should be mentally and physically ready. He is doing that and you might have seen him practicing regularly. I am sure he will be ready whenever the opportunity comes.”

So Rahul looks set to continue against South Africa. But with Pant ready and waiting in the wings, the option to make a change is there if the opener doesn’t hit his straps soon.

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