As Ishan Kishan and Dinesh Karthik continued to impress in India’s recent T20I series against South Africa with their scintillating stroke play, stand-in captain Rishabh Pant could manage only 58 runs in four innings at an average of 14.5 and strike rate of 105.45, falling to wide outside the off-stump deliveries on all four occasions. With concerns over his place in the T20I setup in a year when Men’s T20 World Cup will be held in Australia in October-November, head coach Rahul Dravid thoroughly backed Pant as “an integral part” of the side in the shortest format of the game.

Now, former India cricketer Mohammad Kaif, who also served as an assistant coach with Delhi Capitals, where Pant serves as the skipper, believes that the left-handed wicketkeeper-batter can be a part of India’s squad for the Men’s T20 World Cup but the T20I series against England, to be played on July 7, 9 and 10 in Southampton, Birmingham and Nottingham, will be crucial for him to get back into form.

“He will be in the squad (for the Men’s T20 World Cup). But the England tour will be crucial as an individual, you want to come back into form sooner rather than later because very crucial months are coming up, like the World Cup in October and you want to see Rishabh Pant firing and playing at his best,” said Kaif in a virtual interaction organised by Sony Sports on Monday.

In IPL 2022, Pant scored 340 runs at an average of 30.90 and strike rate of 151.78. Kaif, who played 125 ODIs and 13 Tests for India, admitted that Pant is not in the greatest of form but he’s got the backing of team management to regain form. Pant will be seen next in action during the Edgbaston Test from July 1-5.

“In the World Cup (squad), still got a couple of months. Rishabh Pant has been doing a great job for India. Right now, his form is probably not the greatest. He’s got the x-factor, and skill to do well for India. He’s done that already in his small career for India.”

“He’s still learning as he’s 24, so he’s got a long, long way to go, something which Rahul Dravid said that as you want to have players with character and skills who can win the game for India. Pant has done that for India; he’s got the belief, confidence and backing from the management.”

Irfan Pathan ignores Pant from his playing XI for T20 World Cup

Former India cricketer Irfan Pathan has picked his best playing XI of Team India for the forthcoming T20 World Cup but didn’t include Rishabh Pant in his team.

Interestingly, Irfan chose Suryakumar Yadav over Shreyas Iyer and Dinesh Karthik over Pant.

Notably, Karthik was in an impressive form in the recently-concluded Indian Premier League (IPL) 2022 with Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) due to which the veteran wicketkeeper-batter received an India call-up for the T20I series against South Africa.

Karthik repaid the selectors’ faith by playing a brilliant knock against the Proteas in the 4th T20I to ensure India levelled the 5-match series 2-2 at Rajkot after losing the opening two games of the series.

Irfan Pathan’s playing XI for T20 WC 2022: KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Dinesh Karthik, Ravindra Jadeja, Harshal Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah.

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