The Indian cricket team was annihilated by the rampant Kane Williamson-led New Zealanders by a margin of 0-2 in the recently concluded two-match Test series. And, the post-mortem continues as fans and pundits try and make a sense of what went wrong for the No.1 ranked side in the world.
One of the decisions by the team-management– opting for Rishabh Pant ahead of Wriddhiman Saha as a specialist wicket-keeper– has drawn battle lines between fans as well as pundits. Pant was included in the side because the team-management felt that the southpaw adds depth in the batting unit but the precociously talented cricketer could only manage 60 runs across four innings with the highest score being 25.
Former Indian wicketkeepers in Nayan Mongia and Farokh Engineer believe that India missed a trick by excluding Saha in the Test series. Mongia reckoned that if Saha is fit, then he should be playing in place of Pant in Test cricket. The former keeper felt that India is overlooking the fact that wicketkeeping is a specialist job and is picking batsman more than a wicketkeeper.
“I have always maintained that if Saha is fit and performing, he should be playing in Tests. I have no second thoughts about this. It looks like the team management is looking for a batsman more than a wicketkeeper. Wicketkeeping is a specialist job in Test matches whether it is the spin or pace-friendly situation,” Nayan Mongia said as quoted by mid-day.
Farokh Engineer was critical of Pant’s defensive approach in Test series
Another former stumper Farokh Engineer reckoned that while Pant is an overall package, Saha is a better choice when it comes to keeping the wickets.
“Purely on wicketkeeping skills for a Test match, Saha is a better choice. If you compare the batting aspect, Pant can change the complexion of a game. So, playing Pant was not a bad idea. I wouldn’t say it was a disaster. He didn’t do anything wrong behind the stumps,” said Engineer.
“He [Pant] kept getting beaten. He had to save the Test but at the same time, also needed to get some runs. Had he tried to be flashy, he would have been ostracised for throwing away his wicket. The poor chap was in a dilemma. But when he was at sea, that’s when he should have tried to get behind the ball and play some shots. If I was captain, I would have told him to play his natural game more. He was playing an unnatural game,” he added.
Meanwhile, Kiran More, former wicket-keeper, is of the opinion that Pant did a good job behind the stumps and he is learning quickly too.
“Pant has not kept badly. In both Tests, he did a good job. He did well behind the stumps in England and Australia too. He is learning quickly. You can’t fault his wicketkeeping,” said More.
- I and Rishabh Pant have a friendly equation and help each other whoever gets into the XI: Wriddhiman Saha
- Pragyan Ojha backs Wriddhiman Saha as India’s first-choice wicketkeeper ahead of Rishabh Pant
- Wriddhiman Saha a better wicketkeeper than Rishabh Pant: Michael Bevan
- ‘What’s happening?’ – Twitter baffled after India prefers Wriddhiman Saha over Rishabh Pant for Adelaide Test against Australia
- India confirm playing XI for the 1st Test against Australia; Wriddhiman Saha preferred over Rishabh Pant