The Chhattisgarh

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It’s Rishab Pant vs KL Rahul again as India take on West Indies in ODIs

An Indian wicketkeeper sealing a T20 win with a six isn’t a novelty. Earlier it was MS Dhoni; on Tuesday, at Guyana, it was Rishabh Pant, who finished the gamewith a checked lofted straight drive off Carlos Brathwaite that sailed over the sightscreen. Playing at No.4, Pant saw to it that he was around when India crossed the line to secure the 3-0 whitewash.

With Pant, you expect the outlandish, and not the clinical precision of a seasoned finisher like Dhoni. However, on a slow track at the Providence Ground, such acts of belligerence were few and far between, as the 21-year-old fashioned a gritty, backs-to-the wall knock of 65*.

While Pant’s exploits in the final T20 match may have earned him plaudits from several quarters, he may still not have done enough to seal the contentious No.4 slot when the three-match ODI series begins on Thursday. The Roorkee lad, after all, had held this position during India’s march into the World Cup semifinal in England. Despite walking out under fairly challenging conditions, he had registered consistent performances, even though it did not quite translate into commanding victories.

With captain Virat Kohli following them at No.3, KL Rahul could just nudge Pant for a spot at No.4. Considering the sluggish nature of the Providence deck, Kedar Jadhav, with his unconventional off-spinners could just bolster the case for his return.

In such a scenario, Jadhav, all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja and Pant could jostle for spots in the lower middle-order. In essence, that would confine Shreyas Iyer and Manish Pandey, two batsmen who were jettisoned into the limited-overs squad for this tour, to warming the bench. Pandey was fairly disappointing in this T20 series, registering abysmal scores of 19, 6 and 2*. These lacklustre performances could just tempt the team management to test Iyer as a floater in the middle-order. The Mumbaikar was untested in the T20 series, and is coming after a fairly profitable run in the recently concluded limited-overs series against West Indies A.

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