All the criticism that young Rishabh Pant copped since the ICC 2019 World Cup, owing to him given the uneasy position of batting at No.4 in limited-over cricket, his Test credentials were never in doubt.
In the 11 Test that he has played – all away – Pant has given a good account of himself, scoring 754 runs at 44.35 including two centuries and two fifties and has claimed 51 catches and effected two stumpings.
With comments from head coach Ravi Shastri that Pant is a special talent and he will be backed to the hilt, Delhi stumper’s position, at least in the longer format, looked more or less certain, even though senior pro Wriddhiman Saha had regained fitness after a length layoff during which he underwent an extensive surgery.
Saha last played a Test in January in 2018 at Cape Town and he lost out his place to Pant only due to the injury, when was the best wicketkeeper in the country by a fair margin. And for all his pyrotechnics with the bat, Pant had a lot to improve upon when it came to keeping wickets.
It was always going to be a tough call on both Saha and Pant but on the backdrop the recent backing that Pant enjoyed, not only from the coach but fellow players like Shikhar Dhawan, team management picking Saha ahead of Pant is quite surprising.
The Indian team has been in recent times been consistent with their team selections in Test. Ashwin not being picked in the playing XI for the West Indies Test was slightly off, but Pant getting dropped? Well nobody saw that coming.
But, with the talks of Pant being the future and all, one tends to get sidetracked with what’s in the present and Saha, in the at present, seems to be the fair choice to be given an extended run after the injury layoff.
The only trouble here is the mixed signals the team management has given out regarding Pant’s position in the team and the youngster should fee hard done by. In the ODIs and T20I has had to take the flak for his inconsistent performances and now he finds himself out of the Test squad