India have named their Cricket World Cup 2019 squad including wicketkeeper batsman Dinesh Karthik ahead of Rishabh Pant.
Karthik has been a consistent performer for India since he returned to the side in 2017 after a three-year period in the international wilderness.
While swashbuckling left-handed Pant is a hot prospect for the future and is tipped to be the successor to MS Dhoni, the selectors felt Karthik was better equipped to help India win the World Cup this year.
Chief selector MSK Prasad said: “In unison, we all felt either Pant or DK will come into the XI if Mahi [Dhoni] is injured.
“If it’s a semi-final or an important game, wicket-keeping also matters. That’s the only reason we went ahead with Dinesh Karthik. Otherwise, Rishabh Pant was almost there.”
Karthik has also been picked for his ability to fill the troublesome number four slot in the batting order which has seen a number of auditions held in ODIs this year and last. Karthik wins the duel he had with fellow veteran Ambati Rayudu for the slot, while Lokesh Rahul offers another option for the position.
India are also looking at allrounders to fill that number four slot at the Cricket World Cup 2019 with Vijay Shankar and Kedar Jadhav able to push up the order if needs ne.
Prasad said: “That’s what went in Shankar’s favour. He’s a batsman who can bowl. We’re looking at him at No.4 [to begin with]. With Dinesh Karthik in and Kedar Jadhav, we’ve plenty of options at No.4 right now.”
Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal lead India’s spin corps backed up by allrounder Ravindra Jadeja.
“In the last one, one-and-a-half years, it’s these two wristies [Kuldeep and Chahal] who have won us games,” said Prasad.
“But there might be situations where you might require an additional all-rounder in the XI, which Jadeja brings in. In the second part of the tournament, when the wickets might be a bit drier, we felt Jadeja will come in handy.”
The squad is captained by superstar skipper Virat Kohli.
India begin their World Cup campaign against the Proteas on 5 June in Southampton.
India Cricket World Cup 2019 Squad: Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Vijay Shankar, MS Dhoni (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami.