Nottingham: Young wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant on Wednesday, was brought in as cover for the injured Shikhar Dhawan in India's World Cup squad.
Pant, whose omission from the original squad became a topic of heated debates given his stupendous form in the past one year, will reach here Wednesday.
His arrival will be a day before India's game against New Zealand and he won't be considered a replacement till the time the team management takes a final call on Dhawan's availability for the rest of the tournament.
"Rishabh Pant is being flown in from India as cover at the request of the team management," a senior BCCI official currently in England told PTI.
The 21-year-old is one of the most exciting players to have emerged in Indian cricket. He impressed with Test hundreds during the tours of England and Australia earlier and was in fine form during the IPL last month.
Several former players such as Sunil Gavaskar advocated for his inclusion in the squad if Dhawan fails to recover quickly enough for India. Dhawan has been ruled out of three matches due to a hairline fracture on his left thumb which he sustained during his match-winning hundred in the clash against Australia on Sunday.
"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," the Indian team said in a statement on Wednesday night.
"Dhawan sustained an injury on the back of his left hand in the region between the index finger and thumb," it added.
The selectors have worked out that KL Rahul can perform Dhawan's role should he fail to recover, which is the rationale behind choosing Pant, a middle-order batsman, as cover. Rahul was originally picked as the third opener in the squad, but sneaked into the XI last minute as No. 4.
The selectors have shown faith in KL Rahul for performing injured Dhawan's role. Rahul was picked in the squad for World Cup 2019 as the third opener, but he was assigned the Number Four spot in the starting eleven.
Dhawan is India's only specialist left-hander, and he smashed Australia's bowling plans during his century this week. Left-handers have an upper edge over leg-spinners, a vital reason why Pant has been slotted into the middle-order of India's batting line-up.
"It's definitely a case where we have debated at length and all of us in unison felt that either Rishabh Pant or Karthik will only come into the playing eleven if Dhoni is injured," selector MSK Prasad had said of the decision.
"If it is a crucial match, like a quarter-final or a semi-final or like an important game, wicketkeeping also matters. So that's the only reason that we went ahead with Karthik. Otherwise, Pant was almost there."
On Tuesday, India had opted to retain Dhawan and monitor his recovery rather than naming an official replacement for him.
Dhawan has already been ruled out of the two matches India are scheduled to play later this week: against New Zealand at Trent Bridge on Thursday, and against Pakistan at Old Trafford on Sunday.
It is believed that in addition to these games, Dhawan will also sit out the Afghanistan match, which will be played in Southampton on June 22 as well as the game against West Indies in Manchester on June 27....