There was a lot hinging on the all-important encounter between England and India and the day has finally arrived as the heavyweight teas are set for a face-off later at Edgbaston, Birmingham. The pressure is on the hosts as they have a lot at stake here, they need to win this contest to stay alive in the tournament. India, on the other hand, need just one win in the next three matches.
While they were expected to go unchanged, Virat Kohli did make one and Rishabh Pant makes his World Cup debut in place of Vijay Shankar. There was a lot of talk and debate on what Shankar adds to this team, he had done well with the ball, but they are not really keen on having another bowling option.
His batting form at no.4 was a consistent cause of worry for the team and added pressure on others as well. Though Virat didn’t clearly say that they had dropped Shankar, it was a forced change he said as the all-rounder had a niggle. Pant was not a part of the original squad of 15 that was named. He was added to the team and flown into England after Shikhar Dhawan was ruled out.
He has been with the team for some time now and pretty much accustomed to the conditions. The fact that India lost the toss and will be chasing, his attacking batting will definitely help their cause.
During the toss, Kohli said, “Vijay Shankar has a toe niggle, Rishabh Pant is in. He brings in a lot of fearlessness. He has a small boundary. Once he gets to 20, then it’s a different ball game. To be honest I haven’t seen what’s been happening outside. But I do believe the Pakistani fans will be supporting us, which is a rare thing (smiles).”
Kohli backed Shankar ahead of the game
Kohli had praised Shankar in the media interaction on the eve of the game, however, he did manage to surprise quite a few people including the commentators and experts. Most fans on social media who had been rooting for Pant’s inclusion were pleased and expect the young wicketkeeper-batsman to produce an impact performance in his maiden outing.
“But I personally felt he looked really solid. There’s not much that needs to be tinkered. Sometimes in cricket you just need a bit of luck to get over from 30 to 60, and then you play a defining knock for the team. He’s very close to that, and we’re very confident he’s going to end up playing that kind of knock for us,” said Virat Kohli during the pre-match press conference.