April 15, Monday, when BCCI announced India’s 15-man squad for the World Cup, Twitterattis and those following the Men in Blue’s recent showing rived into a massive argument.

Apart from India’s uncertainties over the number 4 spot, another heated debate highlighted and questioned the committee’s selection of Dinesh Karthik over a certain young blood, Rishabh Pant.

Standpoints across the nation stood on different grounds and for all right reason. After all, Pant is the future of Indian cricket, while for Karthik, he has failed to manifest the opportunities he was handed over the years.

MSK Prasad owed an explanation and he indeed did. There were no diplomatic answers on his part, and the response was subtle and crisp. “We went ahead with Karthik because of his experience in big matches,” said Prasad. “Wicket-keeping also matters, so that is the only reason why we went ahead with Dinesh Kartik otherwise Rishabh Pant was almost there.”

'Karthik over Pant' is always going to be a subjective debate anyway. While in a pragmatic approach, it is the former that wins the argument, but if we are to dig deep into the numbers, the story is something entirely different.

A brief comparison between the matrix of these two batsmen – from their last five ODI – underlines Pant’s explosive nature. During the tenure, both have played four innings and while Karthik has garnered 75 runs, Pant has scored 93. Their average, however, is something which not just pips the right-handed batsman ahead of his counterpart but also highlights the reliability factor, which remains an important trait in a tournament of World Cup’s stature. 

If put into the empirical scenario, it is safe to say Karthik still remains a better ’keeper than Pant. The latter’s shortcoming in wicket-keeping was accentuated during the ODI against Australia in Mohali this year, where his laxity was put into resolve. He failed miserably and Ashton Turner went on to win the game single-handedly.

World Cup is not a stage of performing your try-outs. Argue as much as you want, but in reality Karthik indeed is someone who can hold his nerves in tight situations. Pant, on the other hand, still remains unsure about his style of play, at least in the ODIs.

The 21-year-old has indeed become one of India’s most promising talents in T20 cricket, but that is all down to the nature of the format. His explosiveness and slogging help his team at times, but ODIs remain completely different ball-game altogether. It needs discipline and reliability.

As we speak of reliability, can Pant be drafted into the character? Put on your imaginary glasses and envision a scenario where India’s top order has collapsed. Which amongst Pant and Karthik would be your ideal choice given that a regular rotation of strike is your priority. Opinions may differ, but in a general perspective, it has to be Dinesh Karthik.

"Under pressure, we have seen Karthik finishing matches," added Prasad during his conference.

As things are right now, Pant needs to add different dimensions to his game. When we speak of dimensions, out fielding and a better understanding of the situation come into effect as well. Remember the players in highlight will only be an understudy to MS Dhoni. But if one is slot into the starting line-up, the captain needs to make sure they are decent in out fielding, which in reality – and no offence meant - Pant isn't.

Karthik, over the years, has matured enough to adapt himself to the condition and situation of the game. Pant, on the other hand, remains a unidirectional batsman and only has one gear in his arsenal.

Agreed that the stats are stacked against Karthik and the experts have voiced their concern over the decision, but when it comes to the grandest stage of all, experience remains a key, which can unlock the strongest of paths. Ask Real Madrid for that matter.