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Impossible to play both Pant and Karthik at same time in Asia Cup: Cheteshwar Pujara

India to take on Pakistan to begin their campaign in the Asia Cup on Sunday, with the former keen to avenge the 10-wicket loss against the arch-rivals during the ICC T20 World Cup at the same venue last year.

August 28, 2022 / 01:38 PM IST

India's Test specialist Cheteshwar Pujara feels it's "impossible" to include both Rishabh Pant and Dinesh Karthik in the playing XI during the Asia Cup T20 tournament, given the team's settled top-order.

The top-order comprises KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Suryakumar Yadav, who Pujara describes as one of India's top T20 batters currently. They are followed by the likes of Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja, leaving space for only one player among Pant and Karthik.

"It's a big headache for the team management as both (Pant and Karthik) are doing really well in T20 format. The call is whether you want someone to bat at No.5 or you want a finisher who can bat at No. 6 or 7," Pujara said on ESPNcricinfo T20 Time:out. "So, I would say, if you want someone at No. 5, Rishabh Pant is a better choice. But if you want to a have a batting line-up with a very good finisher who is likely to play 10 or 20 balls and give you 40-50 runs, I think DK (Karthik) is the better option."

The veteran batter added, "Personally, I think, knowing the team management (and) knowing how things work around the team, I would think they might go with Pant because he is a left-hander and gives the team a bit of balance with left-right combination." India take on Pakistan to begin their campaign in the Asia Cup on Sunday, with the former keen to avenge the 10-wicket loss against the arch-rivals during the ICC T20 World Cup at the same venue last year.

Speaking about Suryakumar, Pujara said he deserves to be there in the XI and should not be dropped to accommodate both Pant and Karthik, given his excellent form in T20 cricket in recent years. "Surya is one of our top T20 players, so I would definitely want him in the side because he can he is someone who has done really well for Mumbai Indians (in IPL). Whenever I've seen him at No. 4, he has done exceptionally well.

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"So, I don't think the team management will leave him out. If Rishabh and Karthik both have to play then I think you have to drop one of the top-order (batters), which is impossible. So, I don't think both can make the playing XI," said Pujara. In the event Karthik is not playing, Pujara said all-rounder Hardik has the ability to play the role of finisher.

"I would prefer Hardik for that (finisher's) role because he is someone who can strike from ball one and his strike rate is above 150. I don't think Rishabh can do that job because he needs a little more time. "And if he (Rishabh) comes in to bat, it should be somewhere around 10 or 12 overs and if he gets 8-10 overs, he can score a 50 or a bit more than that," added Pujara.
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