Stats don’t lie: Rishabh Pant deserved to be selected ahead of Dinesh Karthik in India’s ICC World Cup 2019 squad

Dinesh Karthik’s selection ahead of Rishabh Pant in India’s World Cup squad has been met with derision in some quarters. The young keeper has been in explosive form for IPL side Delhi Capitals but it wasn’t enough to seal a World Cup berth.

The selectors preferred to opt for veteran wicketkeeper-batsman instead although it is open to debate whether the right choice was made. While it is difficult to approximate the precise points of deliberation, it is safe to assume that glovework wasn’t the principal criteria. With Dhoni’s position in the side more guaranteed, it is likely that selectors mulled over their batting prowesses.

Going by recent form, Pant outdoes Karthik in almost all metrics. Although the IPL is not the best yardstick for deciding on candidates for the ODI team, the gap between T20 cricket and ODIs is fast dwindling. Pant’s average in this season’s IPL is 35.00, while Karthik knocks off roughly 26 (26.40) per innings.

Pant’s explosive hitting ensures he has a much higher strike rate than the KKR captain. On average Pant scores well in excess of run-a-ball slotting in a cool 162.45. Karthik’s more sedate style is reflected in his more modest numbers. It goes without saying that the two differ strikingly in their playing styles and perhaps would be fulfilling very different roles in the team.

Further, Karthik has performed poorly in English conditions. Across 11 innings he averages a measly 22.14 at a strike rate of 76.35. Pant is yet to play an ODI in England, however, his recent experience with the Test squad must not be discounted. His rollicking century at the Oval was a masterclass in clean, sustained ball striking.

Chasing an improbable 464, the exciting wicketkeeper chanced his arms to revive vague hopes of a famous Indian victory. Although in vain, it was a glimpse of his free-wheeling abilities.

His non-selection is cause for further bafflement as he was deemed good enough to be selected for the Test squad in England while failing to make the ODI team; ironically a format better suited to his skills. The short-shrift that he has received at the hands of the Indian team management has now weaselled its way into the selection committee as well.