'I'm not sure what you're talking about. Look at how many games Axar has played for India.' Legends criticise Pant's decision to send Axar ahead of Karthik.

  • June 13, 2022, 1:35 p.m.

Rishabh Pant's captaincy came under scrutiny after Team India endured a second successive defeat in the ongoing five-match series against South Africa. After losing the opener in New Delhi last week, India's plot to make a comeback at the Barabati Stadium in Cuttack on Sunday was destroyed as South Africa scripted a four-wicket win to take a 2-0 lead in the five-match contest. And when asked to pin point one area where India faltered in the second T20I, cricket legends slammed Pant's decision to send bowling all-rounder Axar Patel ahead of Dinesh Karthik to bat.

After a 45-run stand for the second wicket between Ishan Kishan and Shreyas Iyer, India lost three quick wickets. Keshav Maharaj got the better of the Indian captain, while Wayne Parnell dismissed Hardik Pandya as India slipped from 48/1 in the seventh over to 90/4 in the 13th.

With seven more overs to go, Pant decided to send Axar ahead of their most experienced batter in the line-up, Karthik, a move that left India to settle for 148 for six. Axar was dismissed for just 9 runs by Anrich Nortje, while Karthik, who walked in next, added an unbeaten 21-ball 30, laced with two sixes and as many boundaries.

Talking to Star Sports after the match, former India skipper Sunil Gavaskar was furious at Pant's call and explained that while Karthik is being hailed as a "finisher", at times when India lose early wickets, he can be sent a bot early rather than reserving him only for the slog overs, so that he can get the feel of the pitch even better and work accordingly.

Sometimes there are these labels like 'finisher'. And when you talk about a finisher, you think he will come to bat only after the 15th over. He can't come on the 12th or the 13th. And we have seen this happen in the IPL as well. A lot of teams have only kept their big hitters for the last 4-5 overs. When actually, if they had been sent earlier, because they have the ability to work things around, they don't necessarily have to hit sixes from the time they come in. The fact is that when they get to the batting area and work the ball around, they get the feel of the wicket and they can bat accordingly in the last 4-5 overs, "he said.

Graeme Smith, who was part of the same discussion, was left speechless by the tactic and pointed out Karthik's experience as a batter in international cricket.

"I don't understand." Karthik is one of the most experienced cricketers in India. Look at how many games he has played for India. Never mind the IPL. How can you put Axar Patel ahead of him? "This is mind blowing," he said.

South Africa suffered a top-order collapse in their chase courtesy of Bhuvneshwar Kumar's sensational spell with the new ball. But India, thanks to the 64-run stand between Heinrich Klaasen and David Miller, helped South Africa bounce back into the game and complete the chase in 18.2 overs.

"No doubt Dinesh Karthik performed really well, but he should have walked out to bat at least before Axar Patel." Normally, we say that there are a very limited number of balls to face in T20, and most of the batters want to bat up the order. Dinesh Karthik is a player whom you want to keep for the last 3-4 overs. But he had to come early as Hardik Pandya was dismissed, but if he had come ahead of Axar Patel and given himself 10-15 balls, he probably would have done more damage to the opponent. 149 could have been 169 had he given himself the opportunity.

So moving forward, it shouldn't be that Dinesh Karthik is kept for the last three overs. If you are a specialist batter and you're batting at number 6, then it's your job to play in tough situations and give yourself more chances. And inflict the damage in the last three overs," said former Indian cricketer Gautam Gambhir after the match on Star Sports.

Author : Rajdhani Delhi Representative

Rajdhani delhi representative

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