Rishabh Pant has been in the headlines recently for both on and off-field matters as he approaches the Asia Cup at the end of the month. The wicketkeeper has be in rich vein of form lately and even led the national team. But one role that is in talking points recently has been the opener’s role. With India struggling for openers it was Rishabh who was promoted to open alongside Rohit in the recently concluded England tour.
Although it was a brief role, former Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene has backed the new role of opener. According to the Sri Lanka legend, Rishabh has the capacity to bat as an opener and will be good option to have.
“Even though he (Pant) hasn’t done that (open the batting) much in domestic cricket, he has the capacity to do that. Wherever he bats, you’re not going to change his game. He is going to be a very natural player so yes, it is an option (for Pant to open),” Jayawardene said on the ICC Review.
The Indian team has recently struggled to put together a definite opening pair and have used over dozen of those. KL Rahul has been injured for the Indian side recently, although he is back in the Indian side for the Zimbabwe tour. The likes of Sanju Samson, Suryakumar Yadav have been tested in that department with the latter being a decent success.
With T20 World Cup in Australia just over a two months away, team India will have to come up with a definitive plan. It highly unlikely Rishabh will continue as an opener as Rahul is back in the field. Rahul Dravid and Rohit if have another dilemma towards the end of the preparations have tested the depth for the opener position.
Rishabh will most likely play in the pitch-hitters role that has suited his game more, but it remains to be seen what can Rahul Dravid and management can come up with. In his only innings as an opener in the Birmingham T20, that India won Pant put together an opening wicket stand of 49 runs and was dismissed for 26.
Rishabh will next be in action on Sunday, August 28 in the curtain-raiser for India against arch-rivals Pakistan. The 24-year-old will be expected to play at No.6 awhile Rahul will open if there are no injuries or Covid-19 issues.