Former chief selector of the Indian national cricket team, MSK Prasad has revealed that during his tenure it was decided that Rishabh Pant would play ahead of Wriddhiman Saha in Tests outside Asia, while Saha will don the gloves in Asian conditions because of his superior wicket-keeping skills.
Saha has come under heavy scrutiny after the wicket-keeper not only didn’t score any significant runs in the first Test against Australia but also dropped a couple of catches – both difficult though.
On the other hand, Rishabh Pant is coming off scoring a crucial half-century for Delhi Capitals in the IPL 2020 final against a strong Mumbai Indians bowling attack followed by a cracking hundred in the pink ball warm-up game versus Australia A.
Things have changed dramatically for Pant in the last couple of years. Not only he is ousted from the limited-overs squad – even after being trusted to bat at number 4 in the World Cup semi-final – but he has also lost his place in Test eleven- one which seemed to be locked by Pant after his centuries in England and Australia in 2018-19. The southpaw also played ahead of Saha in the 2 Tests in New Zealand earlier in the year.
While Saha is a better gloveman than Pant – hence he gets the nod in home Tests – he isn’t by any means a better batsman than the southpaw. Saha notched his last Test fifty way back in 2017 against Sri Lanka and returned with scores of 9 and 4 in Adelaide- failing to prevent the collapse in the second innnigs.
As quoted by PTI, MSK Prasad said, “Look, our committee was clear that Rishabh Pant will be our first-choice keeper in places like England and Australia. Only when we are looking at matches in India where you don’t need batting after number six most times, you can have a specialist keeper.”
Rishabh Pant has improved on his fitness during the past month: MSK Prasad
MSK Prasad asserts on the fact that the Delhi-born player has improved his fitness in the past month- in the IPL Pant struggled with his fitness, and also was observed with extra belly fat gained during the lockdown period.
The 45-year-old feels that Pant seemed to regain his form – after a disappointing IPL – in the practice match as he struck a 73-ball ton against the pink ball. Hence, Prasad won’t be surprised if India brings in the left-hander for the Boxing Day Test.
“I believe Rishabh has worked on his fitness issues during the past month and looked in good touch during the pink ball practice game. So I would agree with the team management if they give Rishabh a go for the next three Tests,” added MSK Prasad.