Rishabh Pant's left-handedness shall give him an edge, says Raina ahead of the T20 World Cup

Suresh Raina backed Rishabh Pant to play in India's T20 World Cup XI as an "x-factor" player for the oppositions to be wary of. 
Rishabh Pant

Rishabh Pant lost his place in India's T20I side to Dinesh Karthik but Raina believes in the left-hander's ability to fire with the bat. 

Suresh Raina has given his opinion on the debate around Rishabh Pant and Dinesh Karthik, stating who he believes should be part of India's playing XI come India's first game of the T20 World Cup on October 23 versus Pakistan. 

The former India batter believes fellow left-hander Pant should come into the side in the middle order, which would give his team an edge over the opposition. 

Raina cited the example of his own performances and impact during the 2011 World Cup alongside Gautam Gambhir and Yuvraj Singh to suggest that a left-hander in the top 6 provides the team an x-factor. 

In the build-up to the marquee event in Australia, India have given Karthik a nod in the side ahead of Pant. But Raina believes the latter should be preferred over his senior wicketkeeping pro and play his naturally attacking game. 

Raina bats for Pant's T20 World Cup inclusion

"I would say the presence of a left-handed batter would be very important in the middle," Raina told PTI in an interview. "From No. 1-6, we don't have a left-hander and I'm sure the opponents will have two-three left-handed bowlers. We have seen it in the past -- 2007, 2011 and 2013 -- the role Gauti, Yuvi Pa and I played."

"You need to bring the X factor with Hardik and who can be the X factor? I think Rishabh being a left-hander could be better," he added. 

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For Raina, the idea that Pant can impose himself on the opposition attack with his aggressive intent and intimidate them into erring should be an enticing one for the Indian team management, led by coach Rahul Dravid and skipper Rohit Sharma. 

"When Yuvi Pa and I played, we would scare the opponents. Now Rahul, Rohit will have to decide how they have to go about it. I'm sure they must be thinking over it, but whoever they play, we have to win," he said. 

Raina may have backed his stocks but Rishabh Pant has much ground to recover if he is to find his mojo with the bat in T20Is. The left-hander, an established member of the Test and the ODI outfits, has been a longstanding failure in the shortest format for India. 

Pant is averaging 24.02 with a poor strike-rate of 127.45 after 52 T20I innings for India. The batter has had a sustained dip in his returns in the build-up to the T20 World Cup, making scores of 9 off 16 and 9 off 11 in India's two unofficial warm-up games versus Western Australia.