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T20 World Cup Semi-Final: India vs England-Why Rishabh Pant Can be the Game Changer

Rishabh Pant’s fortunes finally looked bright when India skipper Rohit Sharma mentioned how it would have been unfair for the 25-year-old to play in the semi-final vs England straightaway. This statement less than 48 hours prior to the T20 World Cup semi-final came when a journalist asked the skipper why Pant, who was benched for all the Super 12 game, played the last fixture against Zimbabwe. Does that mean, Pant’s finally on Rohit’s mind? Because for more than fifty days he wasn’t.

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When India played their Asia Cup opener against Pakistan, it was Pant and not DK, who was up in the pecking order. And that’s why it had surprised many when they saw DK in the playing eleven moments after the toss. Moreover, no one knew that the Delhi Keeper would sit out for the entire T20 World Cup before making his way in the last Super 12 match against Zimbabwe where he didn’t look himself at all! He walked in with the score reading 95/3, played five balls and scored just three. Clearly the break in momentum was visible.

Also Read: Underutilized Axar Patel Could Hold to Key for India vs England

And it’s not like he was ignored for no reason. His numbers were not favouring him. 14, 17, 20*, 27, 9, 9 and 3-these surely would have played a role in changing Rohit’s mind.

Nevertheless, one can’t disagree that Pant is a big match player. Only recently former India cricketer Virender Sehwag had questioned why the management is pushing DK over Pant. “DK Australia me kab khele hai….Pant ne Gabba ka Ghamand toda hai,” (When did DK play in Australia while Pant played that historic knock in Gabba) he asked on Cricbuzz. Like many other Pant fan, he was just saying that Pant has the capability to change the complexion of the big semi-final against England as you just never know with his unassuming personality.

Also Read: ‘Would be Unfair to Play That Guy Straight Into Semi Final’-Rohit Sharma Hints At Major Change Regarding Rishabh Pant?

How Can Pant be the Game Changer?

-Pitches in Australia are not your typical subcontinental pitches. Getting the final push in the dying stages of the game from Finisher DK is not impossible. It’s just that, as Sehwag mentioned, Pant being the flamboyant player has the better odds to succeed. Not to mention his familiarity of the playing conditions. Let’s not forget, Pant toured these shores in 2018 and kept wickets in Test matches. That’s sufficient time under the Australian sun!

Moreover, Pant has an advantage against the likes of Adil Rashid who usually turns it into the left-hander. With shorter side boundaries, you would back him nine out of ten times to clear those.

“The key debate or issue on Thursday will be what the captain and coach want in their playing XI. If they want a left-hander in the top order to unsettle England they might go for Pant as he is a great option. But if they want a finisher they might consider Karthik for the job,” former selector MSK Prasad told PTI in an interview.

DK’s Repeated Gaffes Makes Pant Favourite

With repeated failures at number five, DK somehow has made the old wounds of 2019 reappear where India struggled to find the perfect number four. This time in Australia, India missed a good number five and nothing can be better than a flamboyant Pant given the total freedom he enjoys. Although, he does make a fool of himself and gets berated by the captain (read Asia Cup dressing room footage), but in big game situation you either go all out or play the timid cricket which makes you a national pastime.

Rohit Keeps the Door Ajar

Meanwhile, skipper Rohit Sharma wouldn’t like to chop and change too much ahead of the big semi-final as Pant’s someone whose flamboyance can always backfire. “What is going to happen tomorrow? I won’t be able to reveal now, but both of them would be in play,” said Rohit at the pre match Press Conference, knowing fully well he will have to cop a lot of heat if Pant doesn’t click and contribute to India sabotaging a maiden ICC final berth in more than five years.

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