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Saba Karim Praises Rishabh Pant's Qualities, Calling Him 'An X-Factor'

Former India cricketer Saba Karim spoke about India's playing XI ahead of the Asian Cup 2022 against Pakistan. Karim said that he would favour Rishabh Pant over Dinesh Karthik now that Virat Kohli has returned to the team.

Pant has played 54 ODI matches so far and scored 883 runs at an average of 23.86 which includes 3 half-centuries. Meanwhile, Dinesh Karthik played in 47 T20I matches, scoring 591 runs at an average of 28.14 with the highest score of 55.

“Well in my 11, I could’ve only picked one wicketkeeper batter, because if I’m getting in KL Rahul and Virat Kohli that leaves me with the choice of picking only one player between Dinesh Kartik and Rishabh Pant,” Karim said.

“I’ve gone ahead with Rishabh Pant because he’s such an X-Factor for India and I can see him delivering some stellar performances even this Asia Cup.”

Since returning to the national team in June against South Africa in the T20I series, Karthik has shown a positive display in the last five overs. He has a 27-ball 55 and an unbeaten 19-ball 41 against West Indies at Trinidad which benefited India on some occasions.

Pant, on the other hand, showed a mixed performance since that T20I series against South Africa. He failed to slash through the offside on all four attempts. However, he played well against England as an opener twice, scoring the highest of 44 in the fourth T20I against the West Indies at Lauderhill.

Karim said that his selection allows India to have more space to play with five bowlers. That strategy would not give rooms for both keepers to play in the playing eleven.

“I’m also preferring a combination which allows me to play 5 wicket-taking bowlers,” Karim added.

“On top of that, I have Hardik Pandya as my 6th bowling option. So, if I go in with this kind of combination then I don’t have space for 2 wicket-keepers.”

Rating the experienced players

Furthermore, Karim categorized his top order for India to play a highly anticipated game against Pakistan. He said that the experienced players should be given a chance to start the game ahead of the juniors.

“My top order is captain Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Virat Kohli,” he said. “And I'm backing experience to do well against a big team like Pakistan and also in an important tournament like Asia Cup. I can understand that Virat Kohli has struggled with form.

“KL Rahul, would love to see him get more runs but I still feel that both Virat Kohli and KL Rahul, if they undergo 2-3 good practice sessions, I'm sure they'll get back to form at the right time for India.”

Karim also pointed out the quality of Suryakumar Yadav ahead of an important clash against Pakistan. According to him, Yadav is a versatile player who would benefit the team.

“Suryakumar Yadav is such a multi-dimensional player, I can keep him as a floater,” Karim said of Yadav.

“I can push him up the order, if my two openers bat say till the 7th-8th over, I can push in SKY then. Or in case it is required, I can also push him down the order because he's such a player who can give me the value at whatever number he bats and I'm looking at my 4-5-6 as floaters.”

Gian Chacko

Sports enthusiast with love for cricket, football and sports in general. Holds 10+ years of following and writing about sports and lately also betting.