The selection committee and the team management were not on the same page over Rishabh Pant joining India’s World Cup squad as “cover” for the injured Shikhar Dhawan, it has been learnt. It has emerged that the team management was never keen on any replacement, including Pant, instead hoping for Shikhar Dhawan to get fit for the business end of the tournament.
Chances of Dhawan attaining match fitness, however, look grim at the moment. The team management is looking up to the cases where athletes have recovered quicker than expected.
On the eve of the match against New Zealand, assistant coach Sanjay Bangar said that Dhawan is so “precious” that skipper Virat Kohli and head coach Ravi Shastri are willing to wait even if the opener is fit for the last league game against Sri Lanka on July 6.
The three selectors – chairman MSK Prasad, Devang Gandhi and Sarandeep Singh — are currently in England and “wanted to announce a replacement straightaway.”
“… But the team management seemed against the idea as a replacement would have meant that Dhawan would practically have no chance of making it if India goes into the semi-finals. Look at his hands. It’s plastered and things are not great,” a BCCI source, privy to the development, told PTI on conditions of anonymity.
Former off-spinner Sarandeep seems to be an extended part of the team as he is always found in its apparel and pretty active during training sessions.
Regarding Pant, a final decision was arrived at when the team management was convinced that it would need a back-up if the situation turns worse.
“He (Pant) bats in the middle-order, and obviously being a left-hander (also) helps. He was named in the stand-by as well. So the team management has gone and picked him for the order,” Bangar said.
The delay in officially announcing Pant as cover even after the team management and selectors had agreed was due to the necessary clearances that the BCCI had to procure from the administrators and office-bearers.
The BCCI logistics team starts functioning once all the approvals are in place. Pant would be taking a flight from Delhi to Manchester on Thursday.