Rishabh Pant finally gets 'rap on the knuckles' feeling
- For Kohli, Saha is the best keeper in the world.
- Two of the 15 Tests Saha missed were to give Pant an extended run in the West Indies.
- The credentials of the 34-year-old 'keeper couldn't be ignored, more so on tracks that help spinners in India.
Skipper Virat Kohli finally got to the point on Monday when he said Rishabh Pant would make way for Wriddhiman Saha in the XI. The Bengal wicketkeeper will return after a hiatus of 20 months, during which he missed playing 15 Tests for India.
"Yes, Saha is fit and fine to go and he's going to start for us this series," Kohli said ahead of the first Test against South Africa beginning at the ACA-VDCA Stadium here on Wednesday.
For Kohli, Saha is the best keeper in the world. "His keeping credentials are there for everyone to see. It was unfortunate that he was out for such a long period because of an injury. According to me, he's the best 'keeper in the world, so in these conditions, with what he's done in the past, he starts for us."
Two of the 15 Tests Saha missed were to give Pant an extended run in the West Indies.
"Rishabh, given the opportunities, had done well, and although Saha was almost going to start, we felt it was better to just let him ease back into things rather than just forcing him into the starting XI immediately," Kohli explained.
"We all felt that he's just come back, and although he's keeping well, he's batting well, but it's fair to give Rishabh a few more opportunities because of what he's done in the past season for us."
The credentials of the 34-year-old 'keeper couldn't be ignored, more so on tracks that help spinners in India.
"Saha was always going to be someone that we would back as a pure 'keeper in Test cricket. It was just about finding the right opportunity and moment to bring him back in, and you need to be wary of those things in a team environment where you understand when to bring a player back and when to give another guy more opportunities. I think these are very delicate things, you can always look at it in hindsight, whether the timing was right or not, but just go with your gut-feel, along with the management, and then you take a call and stand by your decision.
"I feel now is the right time for Saha to come back in, get into his zone, and then we know what he can do with the gloves and with the bat under pressure," Kohli added. Pant had stepped into the breach caused by Saha's injury. Centuries in England and Australia seemed to have justified the faith. But his poor form in the shorter formats left the team management with little choice.
On Ashwin, Kohli said, "Yes, Ashwin will start. Ashwin and Jadeja, both will start here."