Former India batsman Sanjay Manjrekar has come out in support of wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant, saying the dashing left-hander must feature in every game in the Nidahas T20I tri-series starting in Sri Lanka from Tuesday.
In his column for the Times of India, Manjrekar appeared to be unhappy with the selectors' decision to keep bringing back Dinesh Karthik or Parthiv Patel every time MS Dhoni and Wriddhiman Saha were unavailable for ODIs and Tests respectively.
Manjrekar insisted India look beyond Karthik and Patel and instead go for a long-term option, and Pant, for him, fits the bill.
"That we keep going back to Dinesh Karthik and Parthiv Patel every time we have to look beyond Saha and Dhoni is not a good sign. There seems to be a dearth of exciting quality 'keeper-batsmen in Indian cricket today," Manjrekar, who represented India in 37 Tests and 74 ODIs, wrote.
"Best they give Rishabh Pant the whole of the Nidahas tournament to show that he can be that 'hard to find' talent," he added.
Manjrekar also wants Manish Pandey to be consistent with the bat if he wants to be considered a player for the future.
"Manish Pandey clearly has the talent but I don't quite like his inconsistency. After that brilliant 79 not out recently in the second T20 in South Africa, he failed in the very next game, which is understandable but he had done the same earlier in his career too, a spate of failures after his first century in one-day Internationals in Australia in January 2016.
"He cannot seem to be able to carry his form through. Having KL Rahul in the squad can ensure that Pandey remains on his toes all the time," he wrote.
Manjrekar also tried to impress on the team management that the tri-series was a nice opportunity to find reliable names to serve Indian cricket better.
"Indian cricket is currently on an upswing and good teams use such times to plug holes that are not sinking the ship now, but are there nevertheless. India look well placed on the bowling front in white-ball cricket, both in seam and spin departments. It's the middle-order batting and finding the next generation 'keeper-batsman after Dhoni, the areas that need to be addressed. [Suresh] Raina has made a promising comeback but to be sure that he is our safe option in the middle, he must continue his form. On comebacks, expectations are greater, because there are skeptics too who you need to win over," he said.
India, led by stand-in captain Rohit Sharma in the absence of Virat Kohli, and Sri Lanka will open the tri-series at Colombo on Tuesday. The third team is Bangladesh, who will be without the services of star allrounder Shakib Al Hasan.