Gilchrist ‘fascinated’ by Pant’s positive impact on Indian keeper-batters

Rishabh Pant won’t be fit to play the upcoming World Cup but former Australian wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist is still fascinated by the impact he has had in his six years with the Indian team.
Pant, 25, made his international debut in February 2017 and has risen to be one of the first names down on the team sheet, especially in Test cricket. A strike rate of 73 in the longest format shows the kind of threat he poses to the bowlers and his performance against Australia – 274 runs in five innings, including a series-winning 89 at the Gabba – was crucial to one of India greatest achievements: taking home the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in 2020-21.

“I think Rishabh has inspired a lot of wicket-keeper batters around the world to play that [aggressive] way. It is fascinating for such a young man to have such an impact that Rishabh has had, and others are responding and playing in that positive manner,” Gilchrist, who is in India on a promotional visit, told PTI.

In Pant’s absence, KL Rahul is likely to keep wicket for India in the World Cup. Ishan Kishan also has experience behind the stumps but it appears his role in the first team will be limited to that of a middle-order batter. Gilchrist was impressed with how Kishan has shaped up despite knowing that he is behind Rahul in the pecking order.

“They [India] are well stocked,” Gilchrist said. “They have got a couple of [wicketkeeping] options there, obviously, when KL was out with his injury, Ishan Kishan took his opportunity and played really well, and now they find themselves in the team together so that’s a wonderful case of taking an opportunity.

“Being positive, and then, forcing the selectors into keeping you in the team [is impressive]. It seems like KL is gonna be the one who is going to continue with the gloves but it does not seem to hinder Ishan Kishan’s batting, he seems to be playing really well, carefree, attacking and dangerous.”

Gilchrist picks his World Cup semi-finalists

With the tournament less than three weeks away, and having won it three times, Gilchrist was asked to pick his final four. “I think India and Pakistan could feature, Australia and England are another two teams,” he said.
Gilchrist is hopeful that Australia, five-time champions, will do well in India, where they won a bilateral series 2-1 in March 2023. He added that Adam Zampa, who finished with 0 for 113 and 3 for 70 in his last two ODIs in South Africa, will bounce back in more favourable conditions.

“Australia will learn a lot from their efforts in South Africa when they come to India. They have got three games before the World Cup against India. So, they will have a bit more of a full-strength squad there, that might tell us a bit about where they are at.

“Adam Zampa, in South Africa, was at the receiving end a little bit but it’s different conditions out here in India with different pitches and he is a world-class spin bowler, and he has shown that particularly across T20 cricket, and now he gets his chance in the 50-over World Cup. So it’s a very knowledgeable group and they are going to have to use all that experience against batting line-ups across the globe and play without fear.”

There have been some suggestions about Australia pushing David Warner down the order but Gilchrist isn’t a fan. “He [Warner] looked really good in South Africa for the most part of what he did,” he said. “I think he has got to bat at the top, there has been some sort of discussions that he bats down the middle order but I think he has got to open. He showed in South Africa a couple of times that he is [as] aggressive and dominant at the top of the order as he has ever been. So, I think they bring with him a lot of experience and a lot of confidence, and I think he should play at the top of the order for Australia and if he plays really well then our opposition will fear that.”

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