Rishabh Pant. @ BCCI

Rishabh Pant is just nine Tests, 3 ODIs and 13 T20Is old, but his successful tour to Australia and New Zealand has made him a strong contender in India’s ICC World Cup 2019 squad. The 21-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman equalled the record of most catches in a Test by a wicketkeeper during the Adelaide Test.

Former India captain Mohammad Azharuddin feels Pant should board the flight to England for the continental showpiece which gets underway from May 30.

“I would be very disappointed if India don’t win the World Cup in 2019. India has all the talent and ammunition to win the Cup in England. India should include Rishabh Pant in the playing XI and he should bat at the number 4 spot. But all said and done, Rishabh Pant still needs to improve his wicket-keeping skills in the longer format of the game, where focus and concentration come in to play,” Azharuddin told MID-DAY on Monday. (ALSO READ: ‘Virat Kohli will be one of the greatest ever cricketers, if not the greatest ever’)

Azharuddin, who has scored 6215 runs in 99 Tests at an average of 45.03, feels captain Virat Kohli has become much more matured with his leadership.

“We all are different from one another. Also, from the time he first played for India up until now, Virat Kohli has mellowed down and maturity and experience have come in. Virat Kohli likes to play cricket in his way. It might not look good for some, but it works for him,” he said. (ALSO READ: Rishabh Pant made full use of the opportunity of batting with MS Dhoni: Harbhajan Singh)

Asked for his comment on Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed’s racial taunt targettted at South Africa pacer Andile Phehlukwayo during the ODI series, Azhar said: “I can’t remember any sledging that was directed towards me during my playing days but whatever Sarfraz Ahmed said was not acceptable and should not be done by anybody in any walk of life. He received a ban for it and it was justified.”