Home IPL 2024 Pant’s performance was a vital takeaway from India’s lone warm-up game.

Pant’s performance was a vital takeaway from India’s lone warm-up game.

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During the Indian team’s recent net sessions at Cantiague Park, Long Island, Rishabh Pant adopted a proactive approach by engaging with local spinners, inquiring about their PowerPlay field, then setting the field accordingly and attacking them methodically and aggressively. This calculated approach was evident on Saturday morning during India’s warm-up game against Bangladesh at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Long Island, New York, reports Live Cricket Score.

Pant displayed his boundary-hitting prowess by targeting Bangladesh spinners Shakib Al Hasan and Mahmudullah, smashing them for four sixes before the team management called him back to the dressing room. He retired after scoring 53 runs off 31 balls, which included four fours and four sixes.

Pant’s performance is a crucial takeaway from India’s lone warm-up game ahead of the Twenty20 World Cup in the US and the Caribbean. His knock may have conclusively settled the debate over the keeper-batsman role during the World Cup, securing his place in the XI ahead of Sanju Samson. Samson missed yet another opportunity to prove himself internationally, despite this being a non-official Twenty20 International match.

Samson will likely remain on the bench unless Pant has fitness issues from now on. As the World Cup games approach, there will likely be a direct swap in the XI between Virat Kohli and Samson. India aimed to field their first-choice XI, with the lone exception of Kohli, and they appear to have achieved this objective. The 60-run win, while noteworthy, may be incidental.

Another point of note is that the Indian team management has aimed to maintain a left-right combination throughout the innings, achieved with careful planning. Following the likely all-right opening pair of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, left-handed Rishabh Pant comes in at No. 3, followed by right-handed Suryakumar Yadav, left-handed Shivam Dube, right-handed Hardik Pandya, and left-handed Ravindra Jadeja. This lineup makes strategic sense as it complicates field setting for the opposition. However, the only potential soft spot in the lineup could be the role of a finisher if the team loses Pandya. Neither Jadeja nor Axar Patel inspires much confidence in this role.

Rinku Singh would have perfectly fitted that role, but his poor IPL performance did him no favours. The team turned to Dube, who struggled on a drop-in pitch that was quite variable. The Mumbai and CSK batter will need to step up under pressure. India will hope he avoids a World Cup performance like Deepak Hooda’s last time. Understandably, at the international level, no one forms a strategy based on one practice game, and it is evident that the team management has already decided its approach.

There was significant chatter about the drop-in pitches in the build-up to the championship, but they haven’t raised much concern. Although bowlers will likely find them more favourable than batters, the pitches passed the test on Saturday. The ground has long dimensions on either side of the square leg boundary. One side stretches to 77 meters and the other to 65 meters, depending on the pitch used for a match. The sight screens positioned nearly 65 meters away imply a higher likelihood of boundary-line catches. Furthermore, with all matches scheduled for a 10:30 am start, the possibility of early morning moisture cannot be discounted. Despite conditions favouring the bowlers, the Indian team posted a commendable total of 182 for five. Bowlers, especially Arshdeep Singh, would have relished the conditions. A significant positive for skipper Rohit is the extraction of three overs from Shivam Dube, marking it a considerable bonus for the side.

Rohit Sharma expressed satisfaction with how the match unfolded. “I’m quite happy with how things went, and we got what we wanted from the game. It was important for us to get used to the conditions. New venue, new ground, and drop-in pitch,” the skipper said, refusing to declare that Pant will bat at No. 3. “We just wanted to give him an opportunity. We haven’t nailed the batting line-up yet; we wanted most guys to get a hit in the middle.”

On Arshdeep, the captain said, “He has shown us he has the skills upfront and also at the back end; he has a very good skill set. We’ve got 15 good players here; we just need to nail down the conditions and pick the best players,” the skipper concluded after the game.

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