Rishabh Pant is apparently in the crossroads after a lean run across formats with the bat. In the West Indies series, he managed just one fifty in Twenty20 Internationals and was not upto the mark with the bat in ODIs and Tests. In the two games against South Africa, Pant struggled. With criticism mounting at the lack of contributions, the Indian cricket team has sent some confusing signals ahead of the first Test against South Africa in Vizag on October 2. According to a report in Times of India, Pant could get axed for the first Test against South Africa and Wriddhiman Saha could take his place.
The Times of India quoted a BCCI source who said that Pant's lack of contributions with the bat is hurting his confidence in keeping. "His DRS reviews aren’t great. In Indian conditions, on turning wickets, he may struggle. Saha is a far better keeper than him, and get a few useful runs lower down the order too. The selectors are in a mood to give one final chance to Pant in the first Test, but the team management (coach Ravi Ravi Shastri and skipper Virat Kohli) wants Saha to play from the start of the series itself," the source added.
Pant's situation is a conundrum. The left-hander is the only Indian to hit two hundreds in overseas conditions, including 114 against England at The Oval and 159 against Australia in Sydney.
However, Saha, who has not played international cricket since January 2018 due to a shoulder injury, has been in good form in the series against West Indies A and South Africa A, scoring 60 and 62 respectively.
In an interview with Hindustan Times, Shastri emphasized on patience with Pant. "All your media reports and all the experts writing (but) Pant is in great space with this Indian team. Experts, they have a job, they can speak. Pant is a special kid and he has already done enough. he is world class and is a brutal match-winner. Very few around in the world game; I can't pick five on my hands when it comes to white-ball cricket, T20 cricket. So the patience we will have with him is lot," Shastri said.
India lost the previous series against South Africa 1-2 and they will be bidding to win the trophy back.