With Mahendra Singh Dhoni assured of his place behind the stumps, 33-year-old Karthik has been optimistic of securing a back-up role having also transformed himself into a lower order batsman who can float in the order.
India, however, opted for 21-year-old Pant, who like Karthik can play as a specialist limited-overs batsman and has been very impressive in the test series in Australia.
Chief selector M.S.K. Prasad said having a left-handed Pant in the middle order suited the team, but added they were yet to decide on the back-up keeper’s slot.
“Prior to this, we had series in New Zealand and Australia where Karthik was chosen because Rishabh had played four test matches,” he said.
“We wanted him (Pant) to get a good break… he played a couple of one-day matches against England Lions, in which he did extremely well. Then we sent him to the T20 matches (in New Zealand). We want to give him a few ODIs also before taking a final call.”
Like Karthik, spin all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja was also overlooked for the ODI series against the reigning world champions, which is perceived as a dress rehearsal for India’s World Cup campaign in England later this year.
The successful wrist spin duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav were the obvious picks for the ODIs and are set to travel to England where the two-times champions begin their World Cup campaign against South Africa on June 5.
Opener Lokesh Rahul, despite his struggle for form and provisional suspension for inappropriate comments on a TV chat show, was named both in the one-day and Twenty20 squads.
Captain Virat Kohli, who led India to their first ever test series victory in Australia and skipped the second half of the limited overs series in New Zealand, returns to lead the side.
India host Australia for Twenty20 matches on Feb. 24 and 27 before the five-match one-day series kicks off in Hyderabad on March 2.