New Delhi: Australian great Ricky Ponting on Wednesday expressed surprise at Rishabh Pant's exclusion from India's World Cup squad, saying he could have been the X-factor in the playing eleven.
Ponting met Pant on Monday night, hours after the India squad was announced with Dinesh Karthik being preferred over the 21-year-old for the reserve wicketkeeper's slot.
"Yes I was surprised when he was left out of the Indian squad. I thought he would be in and he would be in the starting eleven. I thought someone like him batting at four or five could have been that X-factor and the difference between India and the other teams," said the Delhi Capitals head coach.
Ponting had nothing but words of encouragement for the star Delhi Capitals player.
"One thing we know about Indian cricket is that there is a lot of depth around in batting and this time Rishabh has missed out. Knowing what he is like and the talent he has, I would be surprised if he doesn't play in at least three World Cups before his career is over.
"I had a quick chat with him. He seems to have taken it pretty well. There is no doubt that he is disappointed, he would have loved to be in that squad but the thing he still has to remember is, potentially, he will get the opportunity to play in three to four World Cups.
"What is negative thing for the Indian team is positive for Delhi Capitals. Really happy that the decision has been made and he can focus on the back half of the tournament."
Pant at times has been criticised for throwing away a good start. Asked if that could be the reason selectors did not pick Pant, Ponting said: "I don't know the selection criteria. Don't know why he is not being picked. I don't why the other guys have been picked ahead of him. To be honest it is none of my business.
"Though I don't think he is impatient, he is a very smart player. I think he sums up situations and conditons really well. But they obviously have their reasons for not picking him and I am not going to comment on that.
"I actually think he missing out you will see a different player in th IPL. His determination will shine through and I am sure he will score heavily in the back half of the tournament," he said.
On the game against Mumbai Indians, Ponting said his team has adjusted to the wicket and the opposition will have a tough time on a slow and low Kotla pitch.
"It should not be difficult for us anymore. We have an understanding of how the wicket is going to play. It is going to be quite slow and slow and we expect it to turn a little bit. I feel it would be difficult for Mumbai to come play on this wicket. The last wicket caught us a bit off guard, we though it was going to play better.