Karthik included in World Cup squad over Pant because of play under pressure, says Virat Kohli

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Rishabh Pant (L) missed out as India chose Dinesh Karthik in their World Cup squad.

India picked veteran Dinesh Karthik over rising talent Rishabh Pant for the World Cup because of his composure under pressure, captain Virat Kohli said in an interview released Wednesday.

The selection of the 33-year-old Karthik in the 15-member squad was sharply criticised by some former cricketers who felt the 21-year-old Pant should have been given a chance.

Since making his debut in 2018, Pant has impressed with his batting, including a maiden Test century in England.

He scored 488 runs from 16 matches in the just-finished Indian Premier League, while Karthik made 253 runs from 14 games.

Both players are vying for the reserve wicketkeeper slot behind former skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

“In pressure situations, he (Karthik) has shown composure. It was something that everybody on board was convinced about. He has the experience,” Kohli told the Times of India newspaper.

“If, god forbid, something happens to MS (Dhoni), Karthik can be immensely valuable behind the wickets. As a finisher, he’s done well.

“So, it was the overall exposure to a tournament of this magnitude that was taken into primary consideration,” said Kohli.

After making his debut in 2004, Karthik has played 91 one-day internationals while Pant has five to his name.

Kohli, who will be leading India for the first time at the World Cup, said he was not bothered about the constant attention he gets as a batsman and captain.

“I don’t want to be the centre of everything. Nobody wants that. But when your intent is to make the team win, eventually you end up doing things which are always going to be seen,” said Kohli, the world’s number one Test and one-day player.

“I would always put my body on the line for the team.”

India are chasing their third World Cup after wins in 1983 and 2011.

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World Cup 2019: David Warner, Fakhar Zaman among the top five players to watch out for

Ashish Peter 12/05/2019
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David Warner is a man with a point to prove.

The countdown to the 2019 ICC World Cup in England is well and truly under way with just over two weeks remaining for the global showpiece to kick off.

The top 10 teams in ODI cricket will be tussling for the glittering trophy with the biggest superstars of the game set to strut their stuff over the course of the six-week long tournament.

Ahead of what is the 12th edition of the World Cup, we take a look at the five players to watch out for in England.

JOS BUTTLER – ENGLAND

It has been a dream year or so for Jos Buttler in international cricket with the 28-year-old putting in some tour de force displays across all three formats of the game.

While Buttler’s incredible hitting power was already known when he initially broke onto the international scene in 2012, it is only over the past 12 months or so that he has really taken his game to the next level.

The right-hander’s consistency has been touching incredible levels of late with an ODI batting average of 107 in 2019.

Audacious, inventive and effortless are some of the adjectives which can be used to describe Buttler’s batting style and it is no surprise that he has now registered the two quickest ODI tons by an Englishman.

That he manages to stand out in an England side littered with big hitters is a feat in itself.

Buttler is the ace in the pack for England.

Buttler is the ace in the pack for England.

DAVID WARNER – AUSTRALIA

He might get a frosty reception wherever he goes during the World Cup but David Warner arrives at the tournament like a man possessed to bury the ghosts of a tumultuous 12 months.

Having served his one-year suspension from international cricket for his role in the infamous ball-tampering saga that occurred at Cape Town, Warner has returned to the game with a vengeance as seen by his IPL displays for Sunrisers Hyderabad.

692 runs at an average of over 69 and a strike-rate of nearly 144 flowed from Warner’s bat in the IPL with the southpaw batting like he had never been away.

There are few openers in international cricket who can take away the game from the opposition in the blink of an eye and Warner has done it umpteen times over the course of his career.

He will understandably face plenty of stick from England fans but expect Warner to dish out equal punishment through the blade of his bat.

Warner is a man possessed at the moment.

Warner is a man possessed at the moment.

CHRIS GAYLE – WEST INDIES

The 2019 World Cup will bring down the curtain on the international career of one of the greatest limited-overs players of all time, with Chris Gayle set for one last hurrah.

The veteran Windies opener is showing no sign of slowing down despite nearing 40 and looks to be in the mood to bow out in style. In 2019 alone, Gayle has registered two centuries and as many fifties in just four innings (all against England) with his average touching 106.

That he is coming off the back of an excellent individual IPL campaign that saw him score nearly 500 runs at a strike-rate of more than 153 should also strike plenty of fear into the opposition bowlers.

The added responsibility of being given the vice-captaincy for the World Cup will only give more incentive to the Jamaican to make a big statement before he bows out of the international game.

The Windies veteran will look to sign off on a high.

The Windies veteran will look to sign off on a high.

FAKHAR ZAMAN – PAKISTAN

Returning to the scene of his stellar breakthrough display in the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy is Pakistan opener Fakhar Zaman.

Since that superb match-winning ton against India in the final of the Champions Trophy, Fakhar has only being going from strength to strength with a terrific 2018 which saw him become the first Pakistan batsman to register an ODI double hundred.

Like Warner and Gayle, the Pakistan left-hander is as marauding an opener as they come in international cricket and is difficult to contain once he gets into gear.

After a brief lean period in international cricket, Fakhar looks back to his very best as shown by his recent ton against England where he nearly pulled off a record run-chase for Pakistan at Southampton.

Fakhar is back in form at just the right time for Pakistan.

Fakhar is back in form at just the right time for Pakistan.

VIRAT KOHLI – INDIA

Virat Kohli’s ODI credentials need no introduction with the India skipper arguably already establishing himself as a legend in the format.

The No1 ranked ODI batsman in the world is a ton-making machine who is perhaps at the peak of his powers currently. Fifteen of Kohli’s 41 ODI tons so far have come since the turn of 2017, with the right-hander on course to overhaul Sachin Tendulkar’s tally (49) in the next 12 months or so at his current rate.

While there is no doubt that Kohli will break all records there are to break in the 50-over game by the time he retires, leading India to their third World Cup title might very well end the debate surrounding his ODI GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) credentials.

Over 11,000 ODI runs and counting at a stellar average of nearly 60 is what Kohli brings to the table for India and he will be determined to put on a show in England after a relatively disappointing individual 2015 World Cup campaign.

Kohli has a chance to cement his ODI legacy.

Kohli has a chance to cement his ODI legacy.

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World Cup 2019: Rashid Khan, Shaheen Afridi among the top five youngsters to watch out for

Ashish Peter 12/05/2019
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Rashid Khan carries the hopes of entire Afghanistan in his maiden WC campaign.

Just days remain before the 2019 ICC World Cup to gets under way in England with 10 teams set to battle it out for the coveted trophy.

The World Cup has seen some of the biggest legends of the game like Sir Viv Richards, Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting set the stage alight over the course of its history.

Along with the superstars, the World Cup has also seen some of the future greats of the sport make their mark. Here, we look at the top five youngsters aged 23 or below who will be worth keeping an eye on during the competition.

SHIMRON HETMYER

Team: West Indies

Age: 22

While the likes of Chris Gayle and Andre Russell will be drawing maximum attention from the West Indies squad, young Shimron Hetmyer could very well be the surprise package.

The southpaw first broke into the limelight when he captained the West Indies to their maiden U19 World Cup title three years ago and his reputation has only grown ever since.

The 22-year-old has already established himself as one of the most explosive batsmen on the circuit with an ODI strike-rate of over 110. He has already registered four quick-fire tons in just 24 ODI innings and looks destined to add a few more to his tally in the upcoming World Cup.

Hetmyer has already forged a fearsome reputation.

Hetmyer has already forged a fearsome reputation.

MEHIDY HASAN MIRAZ

Team: Bangladesh

Age: 21

Mehidy Hasan has long been hailed as one of the future greats for Bangladesh ever since he led the country’s U19 team to their maiden U19 World Cup semi-final appearance in 2016.

A memorable Test debut against England in the same year followed with the off-spinning all-rounder picking up 12 wickets in the match. At just 21, Mehidy Hasan has already played Tests, 26 ODIs and 13 T20Is for Bangladesh and enters his maiden senior World Cup campaign as a seasoned professional.

The youngster is a handy batsman to have down the order while he has great control with his off-spin as evidenced by his ODI economy rate of just 4.37.

Mehidy is one of brightest young talents to emerge from Bangladesh.

Mehidy is one of brightest young talents to emerge from Bangladesh.

SHAHEEN AFRIDI

Team: Pakistan

Age: 19

While Pakistan have included 18-year-old Mohammad Hasnain in their World Cup squad, it is young Shaheen Afridi who looks set to have the bigger impact.

The teenager has enjoyed a meteoric rise ever since his breakthrough displays for Pakistan in the U19 World Cup in New Zealand last year. Within a year of that prolific campaign, Afridi has already made his senior Pakistan debut across all three formats and has more than made his mark in every one of them.

The left-armed seamer already possessed the ability to swing the ball prodigiously but there has also been a notable increase in his pace over the last few months.

He has already bagged 20 wickets in 12 ODIs so far and was man-of-the-series when Pakistan took on New Zealand last year.

Afridi has has a breakthrough year in international cricket.

Afridi has had a breakthrough year in international cricket.

RASHID KHAN

Team: Afghanistan

Age: 20

The massive hype around Rashid Khan is more than justified considering the Afghanistan man comes into his maiden World Cup campaign as the No1 ranked T20I bowler and ODI all-rounder in the ICC rankings.

The leg-spin sensation has been around the international circuit for a long time now with 57 ODI and 38 T20I appearances already under his belt. In just 54 ODI innings, Rashid has picked up a staggering 123 wickets at an average of just 15 while his economy-rate of just 3.91 is sensational in itself.

Armed with an array of subtle variations, all bowled with a fast-armed action, the youngster has already bamboozled some of the best batsmen in the business in the IPL and other T20 franchise leagues across the globe.

Rashid is the talisman for a hungry Afghanistan team who will be itching to make a big splash in the World Cup.

Rashid can tie any batsman in knots.

Rashid can tie any batsman in knots.

KAGISO RABADA

Team: South Africa

Age: 23

It is almost cheating to include Kagiso Rabada’s name with the other youngsters in the mix but such has been his sensational rise in international cricket that it is hard to believe he is still just 23.

The right-armed fast bowler has long established himself as South Africa’s pace spearhead and remarkably became the youngest bowler in history to take the No1 ICC Test ranking last year.

A veteran of 37 Tests, 66 ODIs and 19 T20Is, Rabada has already racked up 307 international dismissals including a hat-trick on his one-day debut against Bangladesh in 2015.

The sky is the limit for the youngster who looks destined to become an all-time Proteas great already, and he will be desperate to leave an impact on his maiden senior World Cup campaign.

That the young pacer is coming off a prolific IPL campaign for Delhi Capitals also does not bode well for opposition batsmen.

Rabada is already one of the very best bowlers in the world.

Rabada is already one of the very best bowlers in the world.

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