“There should be a flexibility in the team. Dinesh Karthik has opened in Test matches in the past so he can do it in ODIs too," Gavaskar said.
Despite Dinesh Karthik’s exclusion from the ODI squad which will face Australia in a five-match series starting on March 2, former India captain Sunil Gavaskar opted to stick with the 33-year-old Tamil Nadu veteran, overlooking Rishabh Pant, in his 2019 World Cup squad prediction.
For a while now the debate has raged on about who would seal the second-choice wicket-keeper’s slot in the 15 member squad bound to England in May. Both Pant and Karthik are in direct contention to play understudy to MS Dhoni behind the wickets.
India have experimented with both players in the squad during recent tours, however, it appears that selectors have settled upon the explosive-style Pant over the experienced head of Karthik.
With the five-match series against Australia being India’s final ODI assignment before the World Cup, it was expected that the players picked for this squad would also represent India at the showpiece event in May. The BCCI announced two sets of players one for the first two matches and the other for the next three with Dinesh Karthik being left out of both squads.
In an interview with Sports Tak, Gavaskar named the players he thought will most likely make it into the Indian squad for the World Cup. "I have 13 names in my mind who will surely board the flight to England and they are Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Kuldeep Yadav."
Gavaskar then went on to say that Vijay Shankar could be a value addition as the 14th player given his ability to contribute with both bat and ball allowing India to play with two fast bowling all-rounders under swinging conditions in England.
The former captain noticeably picked Karthik as a backup opening batsman without mentioning Pant at all. He said, “There should be flexibility in the team. Dinesh Karthik has opened in Test matches in the past so he can do it in ODIs too." However, Karthik’s inclusion in the World Cup squad seems to be hanging on tenterhooks after being dropped for the Australia series.
Meanwhile, Pant will be in action for India against the Aussies and the 21-year-old could seal his spot in the squad with a few trademark quick-scoring outings with the bat. He impressed in the T20I series against New Zealand but has yet to make a mark in the 50-over format.The last date for countries to declare their squads for the World Cup is April 23 with India scheduled to begin their campaign against South Africa on June 5.