Ravi Shastri bats for persistence with 'x-factor' Rishabh Pant before England semifinal

The left-hander made his comeback to the side above Dinesh Karthik for the last Super 12s game against Zimbabwe. 
Rishabh Pant

The Pant versus Karthik debate is back ever since the latter's absence from India's last group stage game at MCG. 

Ravi Shastri believes India should persist with "x-factor" left-hander Rishabh Pant for their marquee T20 World Cup semifinal clash against England on Thursday (November 10). The former India head coach has called for India to stick with Pant after roping him in for their last Super 12s game versus Zimbabwe. 

India picked Pant ahead of their designated end-overs aggressor and wicketkeeper for the first four games - Dinesh Karthik, who had an injury scare prior to the game, with head coach Rahul Dravid explaining later that the former's inclusion was also about giving him some game time in the middle. 

Coming out to bat at No.5, Rishabh Pant made 3 off 5 balls before he was hauled out in the deep mid-wicket region to Ryan Burl after blazing his willow for what looked like a certain six. In Shastri's book, that was a piece of misfortune and the player should be stuck by even as Karthik regains full fitness prior to the semifinal in Adelaide. 

Shastri: Pant over Karthik against England 

"Dinesh (Karthik) is a lovely team player. But when it comes to a game against England or New Zealand, just seeing their attack, I think you need a robust left-hander, who can turn it on and a match-winner and a left-hander," Ravi Shastri told Star Sports after India's win over Zimbabwe. 

"He has done well against England. He recently won a match on his win against England, a one-day game. I would go with Pant, not just because he played here, but because of the X-factor angle, he can bring to the semi-final," he added. 

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Even a year after his tenure as coach got over, Shastri continues to back Rishabh Pant, who, however, has only himself to blame for his fall down the pecking order. Pant has a horrible T20I record to his name: an average 23.51 and strike-rate of 127 after 53 innings. 

For Shastri, though, Pant is a must at an Adelaide Oval ground with short square boundaries and against an England side whose lead spinner Adil Rashid is a leggie. "You are playing in Adelaide, short boundaries square, another reason why a left-hander should be there to disrupt the England attack," he said. 

"If you have too many right-handers, there is a sense of sameness to it. England has a nice attack, a varied attack of left-handers and right-handers."

"You need a left-hander in your team, who can be dangerous and win you a game in the back overs even if you have lost 3 or 4 wickets at the top," he added.