'Look how many games he's played for India' - Graeme Smith, Sunil Gavaskar bash Rishabh Pant for demoting Dinesh Karthik

"How can you send Axar Patel ahead of him. This is mind-blowing," Graeme Smith said.

Sunil Gavaskar
Sunil Gavaskar. (Photo Source: Twitter)

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South Africa went 2-0 up in the five-match T20I series against India after a win in the second T20I at the Barabati Stadium in Cuttack on Sunday, 12th June. The South African team chased down 149 runs with four wickets in hand and ten balls to spare. Indian skipper Rishabh Pant has once again come under criticism after his questionable decision.

The Indian team batted first in the match but was rocked early by the departure of Ruturaj Gaikwad in the first over. Shreyas Iyer then joined the in-form Ishan Kishan in the middle and steadied the ship for India. Just when it looked like India was going to up the ante, a cluster of wickets in the middle-overs halted the momentum of India’s batting innings.

The pitch was not easy to bat on as most of the batters struggled with their timing, and the decision of skipper Pant to send in Axar Patel ahead of the experienced Dinesh Karthik at a crucial juncture of the innings baffled a host of ex-cricketers. Indian legend Sunil Gavaskar believes that the label of the finisher doesn’t necessarily mean that the batter should be given only 4-5 overs to bat. The longer they stay at the crease, the more beneficial it will be for the team.

“Sometimes there are these labels like ‘finisher’. And when you talk about a finisher you think he will come to bat only after the 15th over. He can’t come in the 12th or the 13th over. When actually, if they had been sent earlier, because they have the ability to work things around, they don’t necessarily have to hit sixes from the time they come in. The fact that when they get to the batting area and work the ball around, they get the feel of the wicket, and they can bat accordingly in the last 4-5 overs,” Gavaskar said in a chat with Star Sports.

If you are a specialized batter, then it’s your job to play in tough situations: Gautam Gambhir

Karthik finished with an unbeaten 30 off 21 deliveries, and it was his late charge with the bat that pushed India’s tally to 148/6 after 20 overs. Former Indian opener Gautam Gambhir also batted for Karthik to face more deliveries in future games as he is a specialist batter in the team.

“So moving forward it shouldn’t be that Dinesh Karthik is kept for the last three overs. If you are a specialized batter and you’re batting at number 6 then it’s your job to play in tough situations, and give yourself more chances. And inflict the damage in the last three overs,” former India cricketer said after the match on Star Sports.

Former South African captain Graeme Smith also criticised Pant’s decision to send in Axar Patel ahead of Dinesh Karthik and described it as ‘mind-blowing’.

“I don’t understand. When Karthik is one of the most experienced cricketers in India. Look at how many games he has played for India. Never mind the IPL. How can you send Axar Patel ahead (of) him. This is mind-blowing,” Smith said.