In a big move, India wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant has been dropped from the Test team for the first encounter against South Africa at Visakhapatnam. Ahead of Pant, Wriddhiman Saha will keep wickets for India.
The 21-year-old had not been in the best of form lately scoring just 58 runs in the two-Test series against the West Indies. In fact his mediocre form in the limited-overs cricket has only added to the youngster’s woes in the longest format.
Pant got a long rope with the Indian team as the first-choice keeper Saha, had a long injury layoff. In that time Pant was did fairly well on the tours of England and Australia – where he scored a ton each, but was often criticised for his rash shot selection.
Also what might have worked in Saha’s favour is his superior glove work, especially in India. He has shown decent form with the bat too, scoring two 60s against West Indies A prior to being left out of the XI for the Tests. He followed it up with a 60 against South Africa A in Mysore recently. He has also made vital contributions with the bat prior to being injured.
The last time Saha appeared in Test for India was in January 2018 against South Africa. The 34-year-old, in 32 Tests for the country has scored 1164 runs at an average of 30.63.
Even before the start of the series, there was a lot of chatter whether Pant should be included in the playing XI or not, but a lot of experts had thrown their weight behind the swashbuckling batsman. In fact in a recent interview Ravi Shastri had mentioned about giving a long rope to the talented player.
Talking to Hindustan Times, Shastri had said that Pant is a “world-class player” and a “brutal match-winner”.
“Pant is different, he is world-class and is a brutal match-winner. Very few around in the world game; I can’t pick five on my hands when it comes to white-ball cricket, T20 cricket. So the patience we will have with him is a lot.”
“All your media reports and all the experts writing (but) Pant is in great space with this Indian team. Experts, they have a job, they can speak. Pant is a special kid and he has already done enough. And he is only going to learn. This team management will back him to the hilt,” Shastri said.
Shastri had also made it clear that it was his responsibility to “pull them up” if “someone goofs up”.
“If someone goofs up, I have to pull them up. Am i there only to play tabla? But this guy is world-class, this guy can be destructive, can be a destroyer. And we will give him all the support that he needs to prosper in international cricket,” he added.
Having made his debut in Tests in 2018, Pant has played 11 Tests, scoring 754 runs at an average of 44.35. His efforts include two tons and two fifties.
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