WC: As middle order looks vulnerable, should Pant replace Dhoni?

File photo of Pant, Dhoni

Call it a reality check. Against all expectations, Team India had to fight hard to defeat minnows Afghanistan the other night in the World Cup. They escaped a major upset of the tournament by just 11 runs.

Considered favourites in this edition of World Cup, Team India was literally pushed to the wall. Their batting woes came to light as the team, after winning the toss, put up just 224 runs on board.

Once again, the bowlers had to step up to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

Interestingly, M S Dhoni, who arrived to the crease when the score read 123 for 3, took his own time to score. He faced 52 balls for 28 with just three boundaries. His strike rate was 53.85. When needed to up
the ante, he perished.

This has let loose a debate on whether Dhoni should be replaced by free-flowing stroke-maker Rishabh Pant, who has joined the squad as a replacement for injured Dhawan.

A section says, “Dhoni is in sublime form. He scored a century against Bangladesh in a practice match. He just had one bad day. He brings with him a lot of experience and helps others maintain calm in tough
situations. He reads the game situations and plans accordingly. Also, his wicket-keeping skills are supreme, compared to Pant.”

They also say, “Pant is less experienced and very impatient. Even in IPL matches, he failed to see his team cross the borderline.”

Harikumar, a cricket coach in Madipakkam, says, “The team is heavily reliant on the top three. In case they fail to score big, the middle order should take up the responsibility. But for now, they look exposed and very vulnerable, especially to quality spin attack. Vijay Shankar got a platform in the game against Afghanistan but fell cheaply. Kedar Jadhav might have made a half-century but looked unconvincing. His has little big-hitting abilities.”

He adds, “It is time Dinesh Karthik was drafted in the squad for he is a wonderful bowler of spin and he can play according to situations.”

“With Dhawan out and Bhuvi to sit out for the next couple of games, the onus is on Indian batsmen to score big and brisk. Bowlers can’t be doing the job every time. We have some big games coming up. India plays England, West Indies and Sri Lanka in the next few days. Unless batsmen get back on track, the progress will be difficult,” many opine.

M BHARAT KUMAR