With doubts still lingering over India’s solution to the number four slot, former India wicket-keeper Syed Kirmani has said that he would pick Ambati Rayudu over Vijay Shankar in India’s 15-man World Cup squad.

In April, the Indian selectors discarded Rayudu for the Tamil Nadu all-rounder and said they were looking at him to fill up the role at two-down for the World Cup which commences on May 30 in the United Kingdom.

Although Kirmani stated that he would opt for Kedar Jadhav at No 4. However, if Jadhav is not fit for the showpiece event, the former India wicketkeeper would prefer Rayudu. Jadhav had sustained a shoulder injury during Chennai Super Kings’ last Indian Premier League match against Kings XI Punjab.

“Just one thing that would have been different in my squad would have been the choice of Rayudu ahead of Vijay Shankar,” Kirmani was quoted as saying in his column for The Times of India.

“I would not play Shankar at No 4 in the World Cup. My choice for that spot would be Jadhav if he is fit and if he is not it has to be Rayudu.

“The flipside of the IPL has been the possibility of Kedar Jadhav missing out because of an injury. It would indeed be a sad moment if Jadhav would miss out. He has been an asset in the last two years in the 50-over format. If Jadhav does not make it, then I would pick Ambati Rayudu,” he wrote.

Along with Rayudu, the exclusion of rising star Rishabh Pant for the World Cup also raised many eyebrows with India opting for Dinesh Karthik as their second wicketkeeper. Kirmani said that the swashbuckling left-hander would evolve in the years to come.

“There has been a lot of talk about whether India should have picked Rishabh Pant in the first place. I believe Pant has a long way to go,” Kirmani said.

“He is a bundle of gifted talent in abundance. He has to mature with experience and learn a lot. He needs to learn how to finish, how to save, and how to win. This will come with experience and he will grow as a player in time to come.”

While some teams have been playing ODI cricket to prepare for the World Cup, the Indians have only a fortnight. Kirmani explained that wouldn’t be a factor for the Men in Blue.

“India has possibly the best squad going into the World Cup in many attempts. There has been some worry about whether they are playing too much T20 cricket for their own good going into a 50-over tournament,” he said.

Kirmani added, “I think India has enough experience in the squad to change gears. I can see that almost all the other sides are busy playing ODI cricket in some form or the other while India is going to go in cold for the tournament. But I think India will have no disadvantage going into the tournament, because they have all-round strength. They have to remain positive and believe in their abilities.”

India will begin their campaign at the World Cup against South Africa on June 5 at Southampton.