Indian cricket great Sunil Gavaskar feels India can accommodate both Dinesh Karthik and Rishabh Pant in the playing XI by making Hardik Pandya the fifth bowling option in the upcoming T20 World Cup.

As Team India continue to ponder over the composition of the playing XI against Pakistan at MCG, batting great Sunil Gavaskar has made his choice clear.

The 73-year-old opined there is a way out to accommodate both the in-form players in the playing XI.

Speaking exclusively on Star Sports (official broadcaster of ICC T20 World Cup 2022) Cricket Live show, Gavaskar spoke about how India’s middle order is going to line-up with both Karthik and Pant in good touch and vying for one spot in the starting X1.

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“It’s just that maybe, if they decide to go with six bowlers, with Hardik Pandya being the sixth bowler, then he (Pant) may not be able to find a place, but if they decide to go with Hardik Pandya as a fifth bowler, then Rishabh Pant has an opportunity to bat at number six and Karthik maybe at number seven, followed by the four bowlers,” said Gavaskar.

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The little master added that there are plenty of other options as well.

The Rohit Sharma-led side have two wicketkeeper-batter options in Karthik and Pant, both of them vying for a spot in the XI, giving a headache to the selectors.

“So, that could well happen, we just have to wait and see. They would certainly want a left hander in the middle, but looking at the top four, who’re in such good form, you sometimes say to yourself, ‘How many overs Rishabh Pant is going to get in? Is he going to get three or four overs? And for three or four overs, is Karthik or Rishabh better?’ So, these are all the situations they will look at and they’ll take a call on this,” he added.

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Gavaskar dwelled further on pace spearhead Shaheen Afridi’s return to the Pakistan squad after injury and how significantly the Pakistan fielding unit has improved.

The 22-year-old joined the national team in Australia after completing his rehabilitation programme for a knee injury under the supervision of the Pakistan Cricket Board Medical Advisory Committee.

Sunil Gavaskar has made his choice clear.

“I think that’s what their main concern was, about his fitness and how he’ll shape up. And certainly, in the two overs that he bowled, he’s shown that he’s back to full fitness. So, clearly that’s one headache gone.

“I think with their catching, they were much better than what we saw against England. Their ground fielding was very good. So, these are two aspects that was worrying them and they’ve shown improvement in those areas. So, I don’t think they’ll have any doubts when they’ll take on India on Sunday.”

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