Two days before the commencement of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, speculation is rife about who among Rishabh Pant and Wriddhiman Saha will don the wicket-keeping gloves for India. The four-match Test series begins with a pink-ball game at the Adelaide Oval from December 17.
On the online show ‘Ray Events Cricket Conversation’, former Australia captain Ian Chappell clarified that the person to be assigned the wicketkeeper’s role will depend on the rest of the team combination.
He said Rishabh Pant will get the nod if India plan to go with five bowlers, and Saha will play only if the visitors field a batting-heavy line-up.
“If you’re gonna play five bowlers, on what I’ve seen, I would’ve thought you have to play [Rishabh] Pant because he is the better of the two players as a batsman. Wicketkeeper? He was alright in Australia last time. So if you’re six batsmen, then you have to go for the better wicketkeeper, who would be [Wriddhiman] Saha,” Chappell said while answering a question by Sportskeeda.
Rishabh Pant came of age during India’s historic 2-1 Test series win Down Under in 2018-19. The southpaw was the second-highest run-getter in the series as he amassed 350 runs at an average of 58.33, including a career-best 159* in the Sydney Test. Notably, he also took 11 catches in the opening Test at the Adelaide Oval to equal the world-record for the most catches in a Test match by a wicketkeeper.
‘If you’re playing six batsmen, then you have to go with Saha,’ says former India captain Azhar
While patience is one of the biggest virtues to possess in Test cricket, there are times one needs to turn a tricky corner and accelerate.
Former India captain Mohammad Azharuddin acknowledged that Wriddhiman Saha is the better wicketkeeper, but he tipped Rishabh Pant to bat at number six just because of the Delhi lad’s ability to break the shackles at will.
However, Azhar added that Saha will get the green light if India choose to play six batsmen and four bowlers.
“If you’re looking for a player who you really want to play aggressively at the number five [six] position, then it’s definitely will be Rishabh Pant. And if you’re playing six batsmen, then you have to go with the main wicketkeeper [Saha]…That’s the only choice they have now,” Azharduddin, who captained India in 221 internationals, said while replying to a question by Sportskeeda.
While Wriddhiman Saha saved India A’s blushes with a gritty 54* in the second innings of the first warm-up game, Rishabh Pant smashed a whirlwind 103* off 73 deliveries in the pink-ball practice game last week.
India’s second-ever pink-ball Test will be followed by day games in Melbourne (Dec 26-30), Sydney (Jan 7-11) and Brisbane (Jan 15-19).
Published 15 Dec 2020, 18:11 IST