Experienced Indian pacer Zaheer Khan has expressed skepticism about Rishabh Pant’s chances of securing a spot in the 2024 T20 World Cup squad. Pant, still recovering from injuries sustained in a car accident in 2023, is gearing up for his return to competitive cricket in IPL 2024. However, it remains uncertain whether he will resume wicketkeeping duties.
Engaged in an intensive rehabilitation program at the NCA (National Cricket Academy), Pant is striving to regain fitness ahead of the IPL, where he represents the Delhi Capitals.
Zaheer acknowledged that Pant’s journey back to the field has been challenging and emphasized the hurdles he must overcome to stake his claim for a place in the T20 World Cup squad. Speaking on Colors Cineplex, Zaheer Khan stated, “If you see Rishabh Pant’s journey, the turn he has gone through is not easy for any player. Firstly, everyone who is attached to cricket will be happy once he comes back on the field. He has a lot of hurdles to cross.”
While expressing hope for Pant’s successful return, Zaheer Khan also highlighted the difficulty of seamlessly slotting him into the T20 World Cup squad, even if he performs well in the IPL.
“Firstly, he has to come back and play. It’s not easy at this level. You need to get used to it and get the rhythm back. Those things might take time. It’s great if it doesn’t. However, keeping all things in mind, even if he has a very good IPL, I don’t think the team will be thinking in that direction,” Zaheer remarked.
In a discussion on potential wicketkeeping options for the T20 World Cup, former spinner Pragyan Ojha identified KL Rahul and Jitesh Sharma as frontrunners based on their current form.
“Based on what I am seeing, I feel it will be KL Rahul and Jitesh Sharma. Rishabh Pant’s name will always be taken because of the impact he has made. However, it needs to be seen how he proves his fitness,” Pragyan Ojha commented.
Ojha stressed the importance of realism and objective evaluation while forming the squad. “You need to be a little realistic. You have to keep your emotions aside at times. It needs to be seen where he actually is, and how he proves himself in the first four or five matches of the IPL, fitness-wise and not skill-wise. If we talk about the present situation, I feel KL Rahul and Jitesh Sharma are making a strong claim,” he concluded.