Rishabh Pant set to continue for Bangladesh series

The Times of India

The Times of India

Author 2019-10-24 12:51:00

imgMUMBAI: He may have fared poorly of late, but Rishabh Pant is set to retain his place in the Test and T20 squads when the selection committee meets here on Thursday to pick the side for Bangladesh's tour of India next month.

Skipper Virat Kohli, meanwhile, will take a break from the three-match T20I series, which begins on November 3 in Delhi. However, he would be available for the two-Test series, which is a part of the World Test Championship. "He informed the BCCI today evening that he would like to rest from the T20I series," a source told TOI.

Despite the fact that Pant managed only scores of 4 & 19 in the T20I series against South Africa, there are a few crucial factors working for the talented 21-year old Delhi 'keeper-bat. "The selectors are clear in their mind that Indian cricket needs to move beyond MS Dhoni. In that context, Pant is the future. He deserves to seal his spot in the shorter formats," said the source.

"He's talented. He's kept well, having scalped 53 victims in 11 Tests. He's young (22). He's got Test hundreds in England and Australia. He's a big asset to our team. Wicketkeepers, like opening batsmen, always mature with time. You have to look after him. We shouldn't ignore him at all," former India wicketkeeper and chief selector Kiran More said on Wednesday.

Sanju Samson, who hit a double century in the Vijay Hazare recently, will replace Virat in the side. However, the Kerala batsman is unlikely to push Pant out of the XI as a wicketkeeper. "Sanju doesn't keep wickets on a regular basis for Kerala , so how can the selectors consider him as a wicketkeeper for the Indian team?" wondered a source.

The selectors are encouraging opener KL Rahul to become the second 'keeper in the limited overs team. "With Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan established as openers, Rahul isn't going to get into the team only as an opener. His best chance to find a place is to keep wickets well. He's been told to focus on his 'keeping," said a source.

Though Wriddhiman Saha replaced him in the Test XI during the series against South Africa, Pant is set to continue as the second wicketkeeper in that format. With Hardik Pandya, who will return from England on Friday, after undergoing a surgery on his lower back, set to stay out of action for some more time, Mumbai all-rounder Shivam Dube is likely to be the new face in the team for the T20s.

Dube scored 177 runs in eight games@88.50 (SR 146.28), including a hundred in the Vijay Hazare Trophy recently. Before that, the 26-year-old was named as the 'Man of the Series' after scoring 180 runs @ 60, besides taking five wickets @ 33.60 for India 'A' in the three unofficial Tests against West Indies 'A', playing an instrumental role in the visitors winning the series 2-0.

Left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem, however, could again go back to domestic cricket as the selectors want to invest in Chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav. Nadeem made an impressive debut in the Ranchi Test, taking for four 40 in the match. Meanwhile, before they sit down to pick the team on Thursday, the selectors are set to meet new BCCI president, former India skipper Sourav Ganguly, and convey to him that they want to move beyond Dhoni for the future. That meeting, with skipper Virat Kohli too present, will be held around 1 pm.

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