Mumbai: Rishabh Pant undoubtedly has shined brightly in the Test format, especially after scoring an unbeaten 159 and that too during an away series. Pant’s selection in the team was sealed especially after he scored a valiant 117, which, however, came in a losing cause for India during the 2017-18 away tour of England.
Despite that, Rishabh Pant is yet to shine fully, and that has been observed, especially after he threw his wicket away on impetuosity during the 2019 World Cup, and in the on-going West Indies tour. During the current West Indies tour, Pant has managed to score only 65 in the T20Is. Apart from that knock, the 21-year-old has failed to justify his spot as a number four batsman.
Pant came under the scanner, after he played unwanted shots on impetuosity. Many people questioned his selection after Shikhar Dhawan got injured and Dhawan was replaced by Pant. Apart from Pant’s batting skills, his fielding and wicket-keeping skills have been too sloppy at times.
Recently, various cricket legends like Virender Sehwag, Syed Kirmani and fielding coach R Sridhar opined on Pant’s fielding and wicket-keeping skills. R Sridhar, who worked with Pant during the recently concluded World Cup had stated, “A lot of work has to go into him. First of all, he needs to improve his technique in throwing and also needs to be a little more athletic to be an outfielder."
"We have to use him in appropriate (fielding) positions, that is what Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni are keen on. It’s important to keep him at right places at the right time. In the last game (vs England), he saved at least five runs which is a huge bonus. He took a catch as well.”
While Sehwag in an interview with PTI had said, “Pant is an extremely talented cricketer with huge potential. It will be important that he is groomed well. And now that he has been assured some quality time in the team it is important that he makes the best use of the opportunity and works to better his game and develop as a cricketer."
Sehwag also emphasised how Pant needs to work-out his game plan. “Pant has played well in the Test matches. He has to settle himself in the limited-overs game. He has to work on his shot-selection and then he will serve the country for long”, Sehwag further added.
Lastly, former Indian cricketer Syed Kirmani told PTI, "Yeh abhi jhule main hai (He is still in his infancy). But he is God gifted but needs to learn a lot. It's the most difficult position on the field. Not everyone can do keeping by just wearing a pair of gloves."
Kirmani, who feels that Saha deserves to be in the squad based on his consistent domestic performances, also opined on Saha and said, "Saha unfortunately had some injury problems. He has to be given equal opportunity. What's the point of keeping him in the side, if you do not give him chance. Now we have to see who's is more consistent on the field -- be it in batting, wicket-keeping or in terms of all-round abilities."
Meanwhile, Wriddhiman Saha has been named in the Test squad for India’s tour of West Indies, but, he is yet to feature in the playing XI. Saha made his comeback to the Test side after he last played the 2018 away series of South Africa.
Saha, who has featured in 32 Tests, averages 30.63, with a career best score of 117 against Australia, helping India seal the four-match Test series 2-1. Neglecting Saha’s meagre average, the 35-year-old is a veteran, who has the temperament and the necessary skills to be a Test wicket-keeper batsman.
Apart from his international career, his domestic figure is also phenomenal. In the domestic first class circuit, the right-handed batsman has an impressive average rate of 43.13, after having featured in 107 first class matches. So far, Saha has notched up 5910 runs, with thirteen centuries and 32 fifties under his belt. Saha has an amazing top score of 203 not out in the first class circuit.
Having said all these, it’s high time that the selectors started thinking of giving Saha a chance in the next Test match against West Indies, than mis-firing Pant. Saha who has one or two more years of cricket left in him, needs a chance to prove his worth. While, Pant has a lot of time to prove himself. And, with proper guidance, the Delhi Capitals batsman will surely justify his value....