MUMBAI: Rishabh Pant's short but eventful career has been littered with near-misses and the biggest of them of all has to be a knock-out punch delivered by the selection committee that preferred Dinesh Karthik over him in the England bound World Cup squad.
Before the 2017 Champions Trophy in England, Pant was kept on stand-by and once again according MSK Prasad, Pant was "almost there".
And after being the first Indian keeper to have scored Test hundreds on English and Australian soil with world record victims Down Under, one can't blame Pant if he feels gutted after being left in the cold for what could have been his biggest test.
"It is definitely a case which we have debated at length. In unison, we felt either DK or Pant will only come into the playing eleven if Mahi is injured. So that at juncture if it is a crucial match, a quarterfinal or a semifinal, keeping also matters," Prasad's statement was indicative of what five wise men think about his glovework.
"That is the only reason why we went ahead with DK otherwise Pant was almost there and unfortunate to miss out. Pant has a lot of talent," said Prasad, himself a former wicketkeeper batsman.
The flamboyant batsman, who can smash the best in the business out of the park on his day, gave the first glimpse of his big-hitting abilities in the 2016 U-19 World Cup in Dhaka, where he ended up as India's second-highest run-getter.
It was hardly a surprise that he was in the senior Indian team 12 months later as he made his international debut with a T20 against England.
His talent has never been questioned but Pant has often been criticised for throwing it away, an aspect of his game he has improved upon but apparently not enough to convince the selectors, at least for the World Cup.
While Karthik has certainly proved himself as a finisher in the last 18 months, not having Pant on that plane to England is a bigger surprise considering his stellar performances with the bat in the last one year.
First he proved his detractors wrong by scoring runs in English conditions after replacing a struggling Karthik in the middle of the five-Test series in England. His 114 in the fifth and final Test at the Oval marked his arrival on the big stage as he blasted his way to a maiden hundred in testing conditions.
The came the Australian summer where he earned plenty of fans for his fearless batting as well his constant banter from behind the stumps. His 159 not out in the Sydney Test is an innings which will be remembered for a long time.
It is pretty clear Karthik pipped Pant in the World Cup race on his wicket-keeping ability. May be the Nidahas final knock under pressure was a reference point for the selectors.
"The situation that was discussed by the selection committees, one of them will play in the XI provided MS in injured. So under such situations, in crunch matches who is the best guy to handle the pressure, so that is the reason, it went in favour of Karthik."
Easier said than done but Pant has to put this massive disappointment behind and continue doing what he does best -- plundering tons of runs starting with the IPL.
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