Kolkata: India has thoroughly dominated the West Indies in the three ODI’s that were played. Then came the fourth ODI and just when it seemed that India would take away the game quite easily, the West Indies came back hard and strong to register a miraculous win and stun the Virat Kohli led side by 11 runs in a low-scoring contest.
Batting first, the Indian bowlers bowled with a lot of discipline and accuracy and restricted the hosts to a mere 189/9 in 50 overs. The target looked quite achievable for the batting heavy Indian side in which Dinesh Karthik replaced Yuvraj Singh.
But, the game wasn’t as easy as it seemed. The Indian batting faltered and the West Indies sneaked away with a victory from the jaws of defeat. Many have held Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s sluggish knock as the main reason behind the loss and quite frankly, it had to be a reason if not the main reason for the loss.
In the third ODI, Dhoni played a blistering knock of 70 odd runs and was even adjudged the man of the match for that performance. After that he had compared himself to wine which only gets better with age. Perhaps that wasn’t the case. Perhaps he has lost that belief that he can still finish matches off. Perhaps he isn’t the same big-hitter he is known to be.
His innings in the fourth ODI was just a proof that maybe the end for the big man is near. He generally gets his name registered into the record books due to his aggressive batting and hard-hitting capabilities. But this time, he entered the record books as the slowest half-century by an Indian which came of 108 balls surpassing Sourav Ganguly’s record of 105 balls.
He found it very difficult to clear the field as newcomer Kesrick Williams troubled the former Indian captain and even ended his stay at the crease with his last ball. If not anything, the fourth ODI is a proof that the slambang batsman has somehow lost his big-hitting capabilities.
This automatically shifts our eyes to the young Rishabh Pant who is yet to make his ODI debut. Pant is a naturally aggressive batsman and also has good wicket keeping skills that help him fill in the role of MS Dhoni in the team although it would be wrong to compare him with the great man.
While all expected Rishabh to be a part of the playing XI in the fourth ODI, Dinesh Karthik who had last played for the country almost a couple of years ago was given a place. He succumbed to the pressure of playing his first match after such a long while and hence could do any good to run-chase.
Rishabh Pant justifiably deserves a chance in the Indian playing XI. He had been in really good touch in the IPL and has impressed the selectors, who kept him in the stand by list for the Champions Trophy. Now that he has made it into the squad in the series against the West Indies, he should be given his ODI cap given his batting skills.
He first drew eyeballs when he played explosive knocks in the last U-19 World Cup. He then played for the Delhi Daredevils in the IPL where he played some good knocks and even in this year’s IPL, he was one of the main members of the Daredevils’ batting unit.
Given his hitting prowess, he can clear the field easily as he has some powerful shots in his repertoire on any given day and it would be wise to provide him with an opportunity now as the situation is quite easy going for the Indian team.
Having the advantage of a 2-1 scoreline in the series thus allows Kohli to experiment with his options thus giving Pant a chance to have a taste of international cricket, much like the young Kuldeep Yadav, who cashed in the opportunities he got and has seriously troubled the West Indian batsmen so far.
Dhoni is undoubtedly one of the greatest ever finishers India has produced but it’s high time that the men in blue begin their search for a big-hitting wicketkeeper batsman like him. Taking nothing away from India’s most successful skipper, Pant’s inclusion in the playing XI would give him a lot of exposure as he would get to bat against people like Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni, which is very important and crucial for him to emerge as the next big thing in Indian cricket.