Former Indian opener, Wasim Jaffer has opined that Rishabh Pant should open the batting for the Indian team in their upcoming three-match T20I series against Kane Williamson’s New Zealand. Jaffer picked India’s XI for the first T20I at Sky Stadium in Wellington and picked Pant as an opener alongside Shubman Gill, who is made his debut in T20Is.
Rishabh Pant was in and out of the team as Dinesh Karthik was India’s first preference in the T20 World Cup in Australia. Jaffer said that if Pant opens the batting, he could take India off to flying starts more often than not.
During a chat on ESPNCricinfo, Wasim Jaffer said, “The best place for Pant to bat is at the top of the order. When fielders are up and Pant gets going at the start of the innings, he becomes a dangerous player like he bats in Tests and ODIs. Once he gets a start of 20-30, then he is dangerous. I don’t think fielders outside doesn’t matter to him.”
He further added, “When he comes in at No.5, the pressure is on him and it’s difficult for him to hit sixes. Pant is the kind of player you want to give India a blistering start.”
Wasim Jaffer also left out Bhuvneshwar Kumar and, rather, he picked Mohammed Siraj, Arshdeep Singh, and Harshal Patel as the three pacers. India has all of its last eight bilateral T20Is against New Zealand since 2020. After whitewashing the Black Caps in a 5-match series in 2020, India won 3-0 last year at home.
Wasim Jaffer’s India XI for 1st T20I
Shubman Gill, Rishabh Pant (WK), Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya (C), Deepak Hooda, Washington Sundar, Harshal Patel, Kuldeep Yadav/Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohammed Siraj, Arshdeep Singh