Former captains Saurav Ganguly and Ricky Ponting heaped praise on Rishabh Pant and said the young wicket-keeper could play a crucial role in India's World Cup ambitions.
India's No 4 slot is up for grabs in the yet to be announced World Cup squad following unflattering performances of Ambati Raydu. Ganguly, who had sprung a surprise by picking Test specialist Cheteshwar Pujara as his No.4, balanced it on Tuesday by giving an alternate favourite in the Delhi swashbuckler.
The former India captain felt the forthcoming Indian Premier League (IPL) would resolve the Indian conundrum at No 4. "I suggest Pujara's name because he's in great form. We've seen how well he did in Australia," Ganguly said and continued, "I've seen Rahul Dravid playing World Cup and excelling at number four and five. We used to assign him a role. So I suggest, if you don't have a ready number four batsman, you can consider Pujara.
"Many choices are there but I think the IPL will in a way decide who will get that position. Pant or (Ambati) Rayudu could be an option. We can give our opinion, but somewhere I feel Virat Kohli knows who it should be.”
The 21-year-old big-hitting Pant had impressed in the Test series in England and Australia but has not created a similar impact in the one-dayers, where Mahendra Singh Dhoni is the first choice wicket-keeper-batsman. Ganguly, however, felt Pant would be the Indian player to watch out in all formats in the future.
"Rishabh is coming in and going out all the time (in shorter formats) and that's never good for anybody. The reason he succeeds in Test cricket is because he plays it consistently," said Ganguly, who has joined Delhi Capitals as an advisor.
“How many Indian wicket-keeper-batsmen have got Test hundreds in England and Australia? And he scored them at ease, it's not that he struggled. For me, he's your future. For the next 10 years, you'll see that boy a lot in all formats. He'll be a huge asset to the Indian team in the years to come,” he said.
“If you send Rishabh at number four, he will score runs for you because he is so talented, he has got so much time to play.”
Delhi Capitals head coach Ricky Ponting concurred with Ganguly. "If I were an Indian selector, I'd be picking him in the World Cup squad and I'd play him as a batter," said Ponting.
"I'd play him at number four in the Indian team. He's that sort of guy with that sort of talent who can win you World Cup. He's just got that X-factor."
Delhi Capitals will start their season with an away match against Mumbai Indians on March 24.