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Selectors to give Rishabh Pant a few games before taking final call on World Cup squad

The first of the five ODIs will be played in Hyderabad on March 2.

Rishabh Pant
Rishabh Pant. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

The Indian selectors and the team management have had a tough call to make over young wicket-keeper-batsman Rishabh Pant’s inclusion in the World Cup squad. Though the final decision is yet to be taken but the fact that Pant prevailed over competitor Dinesh Karthik for the five-match ODI series could give an indication that he is favourite to win the race and go on to play his first World Cup.

India will take on Australia in a two-T20I series before the ODIs and although both Karthik and Pant have made it to the T20I squad, the former was left out for the 50-over format. The veteran Mahendra Singh Dhoni will be the first wicket-keeper of the team that heads for England.

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Pant has played only three ODIs so far since making debut in that format against the Windies at home last year and missed the ODI series against Australia and New Zealand as Dhoni returned to the squad that also featured Karthik. The 21-year-old left-hand batsman is yet to repeat his Test batting in the limited-over format which he has played mostly as a specialist batsman although a lot of experts believe that he could be India’s man in the showpiece event this year.

Pant included because he is a left-hander, says chief selector MSK Prasad

“We have included him [Pant] considering the fact that he is a left-hander and we are going to discuss with the team management. We will try and figure the best possible batting position for Pant. With a left-hander in the side, there is an advantage of left-right combination,” chief selector MSK Prasad said, echoing the thoughts for former India pacer Ashish Nehra.

“We want to give Pant a few ODIs before taking a final call on World Cup.”

The first of the five ODIs will be played in Hyderabad on March 2 and it will be India’s final international assignment before they take on South Africa in their first game in the World Cup in Southampton on June 5.

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