New Delhi: Spin great Shane Warne feels the young Rishabh Pant can play as a specialist batsman in the Indian ODI team and even backed the talented youngster to open alongside Rohit Sharma.
With India closing in on their final 15 for the World Cup, Pant has got a solid endorsement from Warne.
"There has been talk if Rishabh Pant can play in the side. I think Dhoni and Pant both can play. I can't see why Rishabh Pant can't play as a batsman, he is outstanding. Maybe even open the batting with Rohit Sharma," Warne told India Today.
"I know Shikhar Dhawan does a great job but Rishabh Pant opening the batting with Rohit Sharma could be pretty cool too for India. Go with some of these X-factor type things and tactical battles, where you surprise the opposition," said the Australian legend.
Warne wants India to experiment with their top-order in the upcoming home series against Australia, starting 24 February with the first T20.
"It could be worth throwing Rishabh Pant at the top of the order for a couple of games and see how he goes. Maybe against Australia now and experiment and see how he goes for the World Cup.
"Dhawan may have a role to play somewhere else. But I am really looking forward to seeing what India have because they have a lot of players who can do a lot of roles," said the 49-year-old.
Talking about Indian cricket, Warne said its national team can dominate the world for years.
"I think India can now have a dominant time in world cricket if they can keep their players on the park, the players stay hungry and value the opportunity and be grateful to play Test cricket.
"Yes they can make money from IPL and make a fortune. But if they can keep the hunger up to compete in the highest form of the game, that is tests, they can dominate world cricket for a long time," Warned added.
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Pant, however, was still not comfortable when he did his first training session on Friday ahead of the Indian Premier League's (IPL) resumption.
Whether Kohli took the decision to quit T20I captaincy to purely manage the workload or the criticism got to him will remain a mystery for a while, but all things considered, it appears a bold move that should only benefit Indian cricket and him.
The decision to hand over the white-ball captaincy to Sharma comes in the wake of Kohli’s decision to focus on his batting as India gears up for two World Cups – T20 and ODI, scheduled between 2022 and 2023 respectively.