India call up Rishabh Pant as cover for injured Dhawan at World Cup

NOTTINGHAM (Agencies): Rishabh Pant has been called up as cover for the injured Shikhar Dhawan in India´s World Cup squad, team chiefs confirmed on Wednesday.

Dhawan injured his hand during the team´s 36-run victory against Australia on Sunday and remains a doubt for the rest of the 50-over tournament. The left-handed opener has been put under medical observation and Pant will join the team in England and Wales and stay on as standby.

“We will be observing Dhawan and around the 10th or 12th day we will know where he stands,” India´s assistant coach Sanjay Bangar said ahead of Thursday´s match against New Zealand at Trent Bridge.

“We do not want to rule out a precious player like Shikhar. As far as batting order goes, KL (Rahul) moves top of the order and there are various options the team can utilise going into the next game.” Bangar added: “If and when a replacement is required, it´s always good to have a replacement coming in and practising with the team as a standby”.

Dhawan made 117, putting on 127 for the opening wicket with Rohit Sharma to set up India´s second straight win in the World Cup against defending champions Australia. Bangar said India would miss Dhawan but the team had enough strength in depth to maintain their momentum in the round-robin tournament.

“Shikhar will definitely be missed in the next three to four games but we have great back-up for each position,” he said. “With that we should be able to make it up. “He (Pant) bats in the middle order and obviously being a left-hander helps and he was named in the standbys as well, so the team management has gone and picked him,” he said of Pant´s call-up.

Team management said Pant would join the side in Manchester ahead of the match against arch-rivals Pakistan, which takes place on Sunday. The 21-year-old, a flamboyant wicketkeeper-batsman, made his Test debut in England last year and scored his maiden Test century during the series.

Pant, who is being groomed to take over from M.S. Dhoni as first-choice wicketkeeper in all formats of the game, also underlined his worth with an unbeaten 159 against Australia in Sydney earlier this year. The World Cup has been badly affected by rain, with two matches abandoned and one no result, and Bangar said in the circumstances it was vital for opening batsmen to provide a solid base.

“In this part of the world overhead conditions do make a big difference so the batsmen have to be a bit circumspect and they have to make those adjustments,” said Bangar. “In overcast conditions and with two new balls (from either end) you always want the top order to show that discipline and put us in a great position.”