Rishabh Pant
Rishabh Pant. ©Kevin DSouza

India Team management have taken a big move as the wicket-keeper batsman Rishabh Pant has been dropped from the Test team. Wriddhiman Saha has replaced him in the first Test against South Africa at Visakhapatnam. Although the youngster was not in a good form and scored only 58 runs in the two-Test series against the West Indies. Even he faced criticisms as well for his poor shot selection.

Rishabh Pant replaced an injured Saha, the first-choice wicket-keeper last year and did pretty well on the tours of England and Australia. He scored a hundred each. However, Saha who last played in January 2018 against South Africa was chosen ahead of Pant because of his superior glove work, especially in India. He has shown decent form with the bat as well, scoring two 60s against West Indies A and a 60 against South Africa A in Mysore recently.

Ravichandran Ashwin India vs South Africa
India’s wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha (2nd L) stumps South Africa’s captain Hashim Amla (2nd R) as India’s Cheteshwar Pujara (R) watches during the second day of their first cricket test match, in Mohali, India, November 6, 2015. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

However, in a recent interview Ravi Shastri had mentioned that they will give a long rope to Pant.

“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,” said Shastri.

“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 added.

Virat Kohli, however, revealed that Saha was about to play in the West Indies but the team management thought it would be better if he returns against South Africa at home. He even sharred that he thought Rishabh Pant had done well in the given opportunities.

Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli

“His [Saha’s] keeping credentials are there for everyone to see. He’s played well for us whenever he’s got a chance with the bat for us also. It was unfortunate that he was out for such a long period with an injury, and according to me he’s the best keeper in the world. In these conditions, and with what he’s done for us in the past, he’ll start for us,” he added.

“Saha was always someone who we would back as a pure keeper in Test cricket. He’s done well under pressure situations for us. It was all about finding the right opportunity and the moment to bring him back in. You need to be wary of these things in a team environment where you understand when to bring a player back or when to give another guy more opportunities,” Kohli concluded.

However, Ravichandran Ashwin has returned in the squad. While Kohli was asked about this, Kohli backed him. He further shared that Ashwin would be the hurdle for their opponents in their way of win. Alongside him, there will be Ravindra Jadeja. Kohli felt both the spinners are needed against this series.

“Yes, Ashwin will start. Ashwin and Jadeja both will start here. Look Jaddu we felt was in a better zone as far as performing overseas and what he has done in the past season for the team. Wherever the conditions provide us to go with two spinners, Ash is always going to be a threat and in home conditions with his batting and the way he bowls as well he is always going to be starting with Jadeja. That was a no brainer for us,” he added.

Squad: Virat Kohli (Captain), Ajinkya Rahane (Vice-captain), Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Hanuma Vihari, R Ashwin, R Jadeja, Wriddhiman Saha (Wicket-keeper), Ishant Sharma, Md Shami