Wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant has mesmerised everyone with his performances over the last one year but if he has failed to impress someone it's the Indian national team selectors. The MSK Prasad-led committee on Monday opted to omit the Delhi batsman from the India's squad for the upcoming Champions Trophy in England.
As Pant continues to turn heads with his batting exploits in the IPL -- one would have expected him to make the gradual progress to the Indian ODI squad, especially after he made his T20I debut for India against England in February this year.
The lad would be dejected to miss out on the opportunity to travel with senior team to an ICC tournament -- which would have been an invaluable experience. The selectors have gone for seven batsmen in the 15-member squad; Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Yuvraj Singh, Kedar Jadhav and Manish Pandey. There are no major surprises and the committee has stuck with experience, but in the process the selectors have ignored a talent whose numbers are freakish.
In eight Ranji matches during the 2016/17 season, Pant scored 972 runs at an impressive average of 81 with an amazing strike rate of 107.28, which includes four centuries. His first century came on his debut against Assam and also has a triple ton to his name in the first-class cricket.
Pant is Delhi Daredevils' second highest run-getter in the ongoing IPL. Just the other night, the 19-year-old cricketer made a 43-ball 97 to help Daredevils chase 209 against Gujarat Royals. Pant was on fire in the match but he also displayed sensibility to lead the sensational chase.
Selectors have resisted the temptation to pick players based on IPL form. It isn't good for some players but 50 overs cricket very different— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) May 8, 2017
Rishabh pant,Sanju Samson ...tonite wow..keep an eye on them teams ...they are special..— Sourav Ganguly (@SGanguly99) May 4, 2017
Former skipper and veteran wicketkeeper MS Dhoni is very much in his prime and India's first choice but there was always some scope to include Pant who carries an X-factor. Even though Dhoni remains one of the best glovesmen in world cricket, his role as a finisher has come under severe scrutiny. The Delhi cricketer with his blistering scoring rate could have fitted into the role perfectly when required. The left-handed bastman also would have added an extra dimension to India's batting strength which includes only two left-handers.
A trip to England would have provided Pant with a chance to share the dressing room with the big players and hone his craft. An opportunity to train under the tutelage of Dhoni, after all he's seen as a replacement for the Ranchi cricketer. It's difficult to consider that the youngster will have a similar opportunity in future under a diminished Dhoni.
Another aspect that further makes Pant's case much stronger is the inclusion of Manish Pandey. The Karnataka batsman has been around Team India for two years and even though the age is on his side, Pandey's performance with the bat in recent games has been anything but impressive.
In his last five ODIs, against New Zealand last year, the middle-order batsman only managed 76 runs at an average of 19. In such a scenario, Pant's selection would have provided more assurance to skipper Virat Kohli.
Chief selector Prasad informed after the selection meet that Pant's name was discussed and he has been put on the standby list. But the selectors have fallen short of taking the bold step and it looks like the prodigy has missed out on a well-deserved opportunity to be a part of the Indian squad.
(Feature image source: BCCI)