India batting legend Sunil Gavaskar feels that wicketkeeper-batters Rishabh Pant and Dinesh Karthik can be slotted into the playing eleven by having the duo batting at number six and seven respectively ahead of their Super 12 opening clash against Pakistan on Sunday.
In Asia Cup 2022, India oscillated between picking Karthik, a specialist finisher, and Pant, a left-hander who can bat anywhere from the top to the middle order, during the league stage as well as Super Four matches.
"It's just that maybe, if they decide to go with six bowlers, with Hardik Pandya being the sixth bowler, then he (Rishabh Pant) may not be able to find a place, but if they decide to go with Hardik Pandya as a fifth bowler, then Rishabh Pant has an opportunity to bat at number six and Karthik maybe at number seven, followed by the four bowlers.
So, that could well happen, we just have to wait and see," said Gavaskar on the 'Cricket Live' show on Star Sports.Since his comeback to the India T20I side in June against South Africa, Karthik has been bringing out the required finishing acts in the last five overs phase.
Pant, on the other hand, hasn't been at his best in the middle and with the Indian team preferring Karthik's finishing skills, he may not be a sure starter for the match against Pakistan at the MCG."They would certainly want a left-hander in the middle, but looking at the top four, who are in such good form, you sometimes say to yourself, 'How many overs Rishabh Pant is going to get in?
Is he going to get three or four overs? And for three or four overs, is Karthik or Rishabh better?' So, these are all the situations they will look at and they'll take a call on this," added Gavaskar.Gavaskar further spoke on young left-arm pacer Shah'en Afridi's return to the Pakistan squad after recovering from a right knee injury and how the side will be boosted by his return ahead of the marquee clash against India.
Afridi was the star performer for Pakistan when they defeated India by ten wickets in their 2021 T20 World Cup tournament opener in Dubai, picking 3-31 in his four overs and taking out the top three of Rohit Sharma, K.L Rahul and Virat Kohli.
"I think that's what their main concern was, about his fitness and how he will shape up. And certainly, in the two overs that he bowled, he's shown that he's back to full fitness. So, clearly, that is one headache gone."
Gavaskar signed off by saying Pakistan's fielding has also seen improvements and would hold them in good stead against India. "I think with their catching, they were much better than what we saw against England.
Their ground fielding was very good.""So, these are two aspects that were worrying them and they have shown improvement in those areas. So, I don't think they'll have any doubts when they'll take on India on Sunday."