Rishabh Pant. ©Indian Express

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) have asked Delhi wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant to reach England as early as possible as he might have to cover the injured opener Shikhar Dhawan’s place in the ongoing ICC World Cup. However, they are trying to understand when Rishabh Pant can join the Indian team.

“Pant will be joining the team at the earliest as back-up as requested by the team management. Like Khaleel (Ahmed) he will be travelling with the team but he won’t be part of the squad just yet,” a BCCI official shared CricketNext from Nottingham on Wednesday (June 11).

Pant was named as one of the standby players for the tournament along with Ambati Rayudu, Axar Patel, Navdeep Saini and Ishant Sharma. His exclusion from the 15-member squad from the ICC World Cup and the selection of Dinesh Karthik in place of him created a lot of debate. However, India have now 14 fit players for their games against New Zealand (June 13) and Pakistan (June 16) respectively.

On the other hand, team management is still hopeful about Shikhar Dhawan‘s return. He injured his left thumb in their last game against Australia on Sunday (June 9) and expected to be recovered within a couple of weeks. Though it was not known when Pant will be arriving in England.

“Pant has already been informed and his kit, as well as other paperwork, has been handed to him. We are trying to get him to England as soon as possible but it all depends on the BCCI logistics team. However, we want to make it clear that Pant is not available for selection because he is not an official replacement yet,” the BCCI official clarified later.

Rishabh Pant

“The selection committee always had Pant in the scheme of things because he was very close to getting picked for the final 15. The selectors believe that he is future Indian wicketkeeper in all formats. That’s why he was picked for the India ‘A’ tour of West Indies to acclimatise him to the conditions in Caribbean because the senior team will be touring there after the World Cup. Pant was training rigorously at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) as soon as the IPL got over. So he is in prime condition and ideal person to join the team,” source close to the selectors shared with CricketNext.

The team management informed earlier on Tuesday that Dhawan has been ruled out due to a hairline fracture on his left thumb for the next three matches

“Dhawan is presently under the observation of the BCCI medical team. The team management has decided that Dhawan will continue to be in England and his progress will be monitored. Dhawan sustained an injury on the back of his left hand in the region between the index finger and thumb,” a statement from team management read on Tuesday.

India will take on New Zealand on June 13 in Trent Bridge, Nottingham.