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15/05/24 | 2:04 pm

Samson or Pant?: Gambhir’s two cents on India’s first choice wicket-keeper at T20 World Cup

Former Indian opener Gautam Gambhir weighed in on the debate surrounding India’s first-choice wicketkeeper conundrum for the upcoming T20 World Cup.

The 2011 World Cup winner on Wednesday said that Rishabh Pant’s middle-order experience could help him edge out Sanju Samson and become India’s preferred wicket-keeper-batsman.

Gambhir, who played a pivotal role in India’s T20 World Cup triumph in 2007, emphasised that only one of the two, Rishabh Pant or Sanju Samson, would likely start in the playing XI for India. He stressed the importance of fully supporting whichever player is chosen, noting that both possess similar levels of skill and talent.

“It’s touch and go, but I’d start with Rishabh because he’s a left-hander and a natural middle-order batsman. Sanju in the IPL has batted at number three, but India’s top order is fixed”, he said.

Given Pant’s experience batting at numbers five, six, and seven, Gambhir highlighted the need for a wicketkeeper in those positions rather than a top-three batsman. He also underscored the advantage of having a left-hander in the middle order to complement the right-handed batsmen, contributing to a balanced batting lineup.”

Pant was named in India’s 15-member squad for the June 1-29 tournament based on impressive performances in the Indian Premier League (IPL) after his comeback following a near-fatal car accident in December 2022. However, India’s selectors kept their options open with Samson also making the squad.

Delhi Capitals skipper Pant scored 446 runs from 13 matches in the IPL this season, with a 23-ball 33 in his team’s 19-run victory over Lucknow Super Giants on Tuesday.

His Rajasthan Royals counterpart Samson has also performed well with the bat, accumulating 486 runs from 12 games and can still add to his tally.

“If India sees that Sanju can score more runs at number six or seven, they could go with him as well,” Gambhir added.

Delhi’s win means Rajasthan is assured of a top-four spot along with leaders Kolkata Knight Riders, leaving two playoff places up for grabs.

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