Sambran Banerjee: Wriddhiman Saha deserves Test nod ahead of Rishabh Pant
Former national selector Sambaran Banerjee felt wicketkeeper-batsman Wriddhiman Saha should get the nod ahead of youngster Rishabh Pant in the playing XI for the upcoming three-match Test series against South Africa starting in Visakhapatnam on October 2.
Saha has strengthened his case by scoring 60 on Day Two of the unofficial Test against South Africa 'A' on Wednesday.
Banerjee, who was a national selector from 1994-95 to 1997-98, stressed that Saha is a far better 'keeper than Pant.
"We need a specialist wicketkeeper in Test cricket. There is no doubt that Saha is a far better 'keeper. I agree that Pant can score at a faster pace, but do we require that against South Africa?
Leg side an issue for Pant?
"Pant has to improve his hitting, especially on the leg side. He has to work a lot on his leg-side gathering. Saha was not dropped, he was injured, so he should get his place back," Banerjee said.
Saha, who has scored 1164 runs in 32 Tests at an average of 30.63, missed the entire 2018-19 season after struggling with a shoulder injury last year. Pant has since then scored 754 runs in 11 Tests. Saha was selected for the recently-concluded two-match Test series against West Indies in the Caribbean but could not find a place in the playing XI.
Former India spinner Utpal Chatterjee felt Saha will find a place against South Africa. "The 'keeper has to be in top form in conditions where the ball will turn. Agility and collection are very important aspects. I feel Saha will definitely make it to the playing XI."
India's new batting coach Vikram Rathour on Tuesday urged Pant to improve his shot selection, saying fearless cricket does not mean reckless cricket. Ex-selector Raja Venkat, who was part of the K Srikkanth-led selection committee in 2009, agreed with Banerjee and Chatterjee.
'Saha is a must'
"There's no question of ignoring Saha. He is a must; a safe 'keeper. His batting is not that bad. In fact, it's quite good. Technique and temperament-wise he is far better than any other 'keeper. As far as Test cricket is concerned, it should be a 'keeper-batsman and not a batsman-keeper. I feel Saha will get the nod ahead of Pant from the team management."
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