KT Exclusive: Should India bring Pant back in place of Karthik? Farokh Engineer gives his verdict

India should be able to win their two next matches against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh to qualify for the semis. But you cannot take anything for granted



Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

By Farokh Engineer

Published: Mon 31 Oct 2022, 9:35 AM

Last updated: Mon 31 Oct 2022, 9:58 AM

India need to quickly find some solutions after their chastening defeat to South Africa on Sunday. Their first problem is opening batsman KL Rahul who is terribly out of form. The way he was out, it was like he was giving catching practice. He just glided the ball into the first slip. An opening batsman doesn't do that!

I have a very high opinion of KL Rahul as a very, very capable batsman. But in this World Cup, he just hasn't done anything.

So are you going to replace him at this stage? Are you going to get Rishabh Pant to open the innings? I don't know.

I would like to pursue with him still because he is a good batsman, you cannot become a bad batsman overnight.

Poor fielding

While Rahul's form remains a big worry, India were very poor in the ground fielding and catching. You cannot afford to have fielding lapses if you want to become a champion team.

Virat Kohli is one of the finest fielders in the outfield, but he dropped an absolute sitter against Aiden Markram at a crucial time. That catch could have made the big difference between winning and losing.

And we missed six run-outs. We didn't hit the ball onto the stumps. These are the three areas where India have to improve.

Pant in place of Karthik

India have been sticking with Dinesh Karthik. But I would play Rishabh Pant instead of Karthik. He missed a couple of easy stumpings in the last game. Pant is capable of getting you a quick-fire 50-60 off 30 balls which could make all the difference in a T20 game.

As for our batting, I was surprised with our poor shot selection. I won't take away any credit from South Africa. They bowled really, really well. But what surprised me is that India won the toss and elected to bat on a green wicket that was helpful to seamers. I think India didnt read the wicket properly.

South Africa have got four of the quickest bowlers around, they can seam it and swing it. Wayne Parnell, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi and Anrich Nortje, these are class bowlers.

And they are going to trouble you because they hit the deck. They hit the seam, that's the most important thing. That's why our top order was in complete disarray.

Sky is phenomenal

If you take away Suryakumar Yadav's score of 68, what is left? Nothing. That guy for me is a phenomenal player. I would go miles to watch him play.

He plays some great shots and he also plays some inventive shots, which he doesn't need to do all the time. But he is an absolute out-an-out star.

Improve body language, please

India should be able to win their two next matches against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh to qualify for the semis. But you cannot take anything for granted.

Also I didn't like the body language of the Indian team today when the South African batsmen got the momentum. They got disappointed very quickly, it was as if 'even if we lose this match, we can still qualify'. That was their attitude, and I didn't like it.

Farokh Engineer is a former Indian wicketkeeper-batsman who played 46 Test matches from 1961 to 1975

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