Mumbai: After stumbling to an eight-wicket loss in the first Test of the four-match series against Australia, former India spinner Murali Karthik feels that the visiting team can play wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant as a batsman in the second Test and added that stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane should come to bat at number four.
On Saturday, India was bundled out for 36 in the second innings of the pink-ball Test and Australia was given a mediocre target of 90 runs. Australia chased down the total comfortably inside 21 overs with eight wickets in hand.
Skipper Virat Kohli will miss the rest of the series for India as he will return home after being granted paternity leave by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). Rahane is set to take on the role of stand-in captain in the remaining three games of the series.
According to Karthik, Pant has an ‘X-factor’ in his batting and believes that he can produce results for the side while Wriddhiman Saha will keep his position behind the stumps.
Pant had played an unbeaten knock of 103 during the second innings in the day-night practice game against Australia A.
Speaking on Sony Sports Network Karthik said, “One more thing can happen is that Ajinkya Rahane who plays up the order in first-class cricket can himself come at number four because of the forced change. You can use Rishabh Pant just as a batsman with the X-factor.”
“Everyone is seeing KL Rahul’s form but when he was left out of the Test team, it was because of his Test form. Now he came back in the team because of other things. When someone sees the recent form, they feel he is in form.
“So, these things will have to be seen with interest. Rishabh Pant has not done anything wrong as a batsman so you can play him as a batsman and don’t take the gloves from Wriddhiman Saha. So, that can also happen. It all depends on their thinking,” he added.
Kartik pointed out that the Indian team management would look for a replacement for Prithvi Shaw who looked totally out of sorts in Adelaide.
“But it depends on Prithvi Shaw, who was looking that he is not in form but the team management did the right thing by giving him the first chance. He had done well in the last Test match he played,” he said.
“Everyone was seeing that he did not score runs in the IPL and wanted him to be kept out, but they did not do that. But in this match, he didn’t look in confidence at all. So, will you want to put him in pressure again or want to bring a fresh player who does not have that issue,” Kartik added.
India will also be without the services of pacer Mohammad Shami as he has been ruled out of the series after suffering a fracture on his arm as reported by ANI on Saturday.
He retired hurt while batting in the second innings at the Adelaide Oval on Saturday after he was hit on the right arm by a bouncer from Pat Cummins.
Speaking to ANI, sources in the know of developments said that the terrible pain was a result of the fracture he has sustained. “Yes, he has a fracture and that is why he could not grip the bat and lift it at the crease. It looked bad and the worst fear has come true,” the source had said.
India and Australia will lock horns in the Boxing Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, beginning December 26.