India vs South Africa: Wriddhiman Saha may get the nod ahead of Rishabh Pant in first Test at Vizag

The Times of India

The Times of India

Author 2019-09-26 12:13:00

imgMUMBAI: Time seems to have almost run out for Rishabh Pant. The 21-year-old, who was out for 4 and 19 in the recently-held T20 series against South Africa at home, and is in the midst of an extended bad run, is part of the Test team against the Proteas.

However, according to reliable sources, the talented youngster could be omitted from the XI for the first Test against the visitors at Vizag from October 2, with the more experienced Wriddhiman Saha being preferred instead.

“The selectors are in a mood to give one final chance to Pant in the first Test, but the team management (coach Ravi Shastri and skipper Virat Kohli) wants Saha to play from

the start of the series itself,” a source told TOI. An axe from the Test team will be a huge setback for the 21-year-old, who was anointed as India’s first-choice wicketkeeper for all the three formats by chief selector MSK Prasad before the team left for the West Indies. He is, after all, the only Indian ‘keeper to score Test hundreds in England and Australia.

“The problem is, Pant’s lack of success with the bat is hurting his confidence while keeping wickets too. His DRS reviews aren’t great. In Indian conditions, on turning wickets, he may struggle. Saha is a far better ‘keeper than him, and get a few useful runs lower down the order too,” the source said.

Despite his consistent failures, Pant, who is now India’s main stumper after MS Dhoni took a break from international cricket, has won sympathy all around, with Prasad himself saying recently that one needed to be patient with someone as talented as Pant. “I have already said that post World Cup we have been concentrating on the progress of Rishabh. We need to be patient with him, considering the immense talent that he possesses," Prasad had said.

However, there are many experts who feel that at the moment, Saha deserves a go first. In 32 Tests, Saha enjoys an average of 30.63, with three hundreds and five fifties under his belt. The 34-year-old from Bengal was India’s regular Test gloveman before a shoulder injury ruled him out of international cricket since January 2018. What boosts Saha’s case is that he’s been in decent form recently, having scored 60 against South Africa A at Mysuru, and 62 against West Indies A before that.

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