After spending 21 months out of international cricket, Wriddhiman Saha finally made his return as he replaced Rishabh Pant in the playing XI for the opening Test of the series against South Africa in Vizag. The decision, at first, came as a surprise but the Indian skipper Virat Kohli mentioned that Saha was always going to be back in the playing XI once he was back in the side.
Rishabh may have a good record with the bat but Saha’s wicketkeeping skills are too good to be ignored, that major reason behind him getting the nod.
Commenting on the understanding between the duo after the opening Test, Rohit Sharma said that Saha has been guiding Rishabh since his comeback and both have great understanding between each other.
“Keeping plays a big part in these conditions and I am sure [with] the support staff he will get better with time. He can also learn from Saha who plays a big part. In the West Indies, Saha guided him after every session. They have great understanding,” he said.
Going by statistics, Rishabh should have retained his place in the playing XI. In 11 Tests, he has scored 754 runs at 44.35. He is the only Indian wicketkeeper-batsman to score centuries in Tests in Australia and England.
He also kept wickets ahead of Saha in West Indies but in the first Test in the home season, he was pipped by his senior.
He has often been criticised for his shot selection and the recent comments of team management would have played a big role in him being dropped from the playing XI.
Kohli and India head coach Ravi Shastri, before the South Africa T20I series, had said that Rishabh’s shot selection has let the team down on occasions. The pressure was on the youngster during the series and he did not do well in the two T20Is.
Although Rishabh is not the first-choice wicketkeeper in Tests now, he is expected to keep his place in the limited-overs team due to unavailability to MS Dhoni, who is not available for Bangladesh series as well.
Rishabh is touted to succeed the former India captain in the role and the comeback of Saha will surely help him concentrate on white-ball cricket. As far as Saha is a part of the Test team, chances of Rishabh walking into playing XI are minute.