World Cup 2019: 'Please don’t drop Vijay Shankar', Pietersen ramps up mind games

Pietersen urged Indian captain Virat Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri to continue with under-fire all-rounder Vijay Shankar instead of inducting wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant.

Vijay Shankar hasn't delivered with the bat yet during the World Cup.   -  AFP

Former England captain Kevin Pietersen on Saturday weighed in on Team India's World Cup 2019 selection, doing a switch-hit on the stance he had taken earlier.

A day before England's game against India at Edgbaston, Birmigham, Pietersen urged Indian captain Virat Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri to continue with under-fire all-rounder Vijay Shankar instead of inducting wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant.

“Dear Virat & Ravi - please don’t drop Vijay Shankar. I think he’s coming into his own and would potentially win you tomorrow’s game,” Pietersen tweeted.

“Don’t think about Pant. He needs another 3 weeks prep before I think he can get into your World Cup side,” he wrote.

Fans noted the sarcasm in the tweet. Pietersen was earlier not convinced with Vijay's inclusion in the Indian team for the tournament as a designated number four batsman when the squad was announced in April.

"I haven’t seen enough of Vijay Shankar to warrant a No. 4 slot for India in the World Cup. I have seen some great players bat at No. 4 for India and sadly, Shankar seems far away from it. Batting at No. 4 is difficult and even more so in English conditions. It is almost like Shankar and (Kedar) Jadhav have made it to the India squad because they can bowl,” Pietersen said on Star Sports during the Indian Premier League (IPL).

Pant was brought in as a replacement for the injured Shikhar Dhawan. PHOTO: AFP

 

Shankar, who is currently occupying India’s number four slot in the batting order, has failed to cash in on the opportunity. His scores so far have been a 15 not out batting at number six against Pakistan and 29 against Afghanistan and 14 against the West Indies at number four.

He picked up two wickets against Pakistan but did not bowl in the wins over Afghanistan and the Windies.

Pietersen had also pitched for Pant to bat at No. 4 for India after opener Shikhar Dhawan was ruled out of the World Cup with a thumb injury.

"Shikha OUT the World Cup. Get Pant on the plane ASAP. KL Rahul to open and Pant at number 4...," Pietersen tweeted on June 11.

 

India is second in the 10-team table with 11 points from six matches, and needs to win one of its remaining three matches to seal a semifinal spot.

Pre-tournament favourite England lost its last two games against Sri Lanka and Australia and finds itself in a tough situation in fourth place with eight points from seven games.