It’s a World Cup year. It’s also probably MS Dhoni’s last year as a cricketer and his last World Cup, too. The big-hitting stalwart behind the stumps will surely leave a void that cannot be replaced but will have to be filled. With the 15-man squad for the marquee event filling up quickly, there are only two or three spots left, of which the second wicketkeeper is the most hotly debated. 

Whether the position is filled by the experience of Dinesh Karthik or the big-hitting Rishabh Pant remains to be seen, but it has stirred up an interesting debate.

Also read: Team wants me to finish games, says Dinesh Karthik

Karthik has been in good form with the bat off late and the Tamil Nadu batsman has worked hard on his hitting skills. Karthik, in the recent past, has helped India win some very tight matches with his big hitting and made a name for himself as a finisher.


Last year, in the final of Nidahas Twenty20 Tri-Series final in Sri Lanka, Karthik won the love and respect of Indian cricket fans as he did a Javed Miandad with a last-ball six and helped India pull off an incredible win against Bangladesh. Karthik batted for eight balls and scored 29 runs, with the help of two fours and three sixes. It was an innings that will be remembered by Indian cricket fans for a very long time as it sealed the series decider and made Karthik India’s new ‘finisher’. 

Fast forward to 2019, Karthik is still hitting the ball very well but his place in India’s ICC World 2019’s squad is still not cemented. Young Pant continues to feature in all formats and he has replaced Karthik in the upcoming ODI series against Australia, as the second wicketkeeper-batsman. 

Chairman of India's senior selection committee MSK Prasad said that Karthik has been performing well for India as a finisher. But he also added that young Pant has escalated very fast and the selectors want to give him a good run before they take the final call on the World Cup squad.

Also read: India ODI, T20I teams announced for Australia series

"It's definitely a healthy debate that's going on. We know Dinesh Karthik has been doing really well in the finisher's role. At the same time, Rishabh Pant's escalation has been very fast. He is showing a lot of maturity. Both of them are equally good but what is good for the team is going to help us take a call at the appropriate time," Prasad had said in an interview to Hotstar.

However, if the selectors have to take a call, young Pant will have to be sacrificed even if he makes good contributions in the upcoming ODI series against Australia. Here’s why: 


Experience, more often than not, makes a huge difference in big tournaments such as World Cup. In his short ODI career so far, we have seen Pant play some irresponsible strokes under pressure and throw his wicket away. Karthik’s shot selection has been very good off late and his experience of playing big tournaments can be very useful for India down the order.

Ability to rotate the strike and keep the scoreboard ticking

Karthik is a very busy batsman and he keeps the scoreboard moving with his ability to rotate the strike in the middle overs or at the start of his innings. We have seen in the recent past that if India lose a couple of early wickets then it requires solidity to rebuild the innings and at the moment, Karthik offers a lot more solidity than Pant in the lower middle order.

Karthik hasn’t really done anything wrong to miss out

Karthik is in the form of his life and he has been hitting the ball as good as anyone at the moment. In the last three ODI series, he averages 38.0, 37.0 and 48.66 against New Zealand, Australia and in Asia Cup respectively. These are very good numbers considering Karthik bats very down the order and plays the role of a finisher. 


While former Indian cricketer and commentator Sanjay Manjrekar believes Karthik’s ODI career is over, it will be in India’s interest that the Tamil Nadu batsman is picked in the World Cup squad to add more experience, reliability and solidity.