‘Best in the world’ Saha replaces Pant for first South Africa Test

Wriddhiman Saha will play his first international match in 22 months after India captain Virat Kohli confirmed that young wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant was being dropped for the first Test of India’s home season.

Pant had stepped into the breach left by unfortunate injuries to Saha, which put him out for way longer than originally anticipated. Pant took the spot with centuries in England and in Australia, the only India wicketkeeper to have done so in either of the countries.

However, Pant has come in for criticism in recent times for his shot selection in limited-overs cricket. India coach Ravi Shastri has called for a “rap on the knuckles“, and batting coach Vikram Rathour has spoken about the importance of being fearless without being careless. Captain Virat Kohli has also spoken of how youngsters wouldn’t get chance after chance in the highly competitive Indian sides.

Pant’s limited-overs form, however, might not be the reason for his omission after all. One school of thought says the amount of turn on Indian pitches calls for a more technically accomplished wicketkeeper, which has reopened the door for Saha, who will turn 35 this October.

Another comeback that was confirmed by Kohli in his pre-match press conference was R Ashwin, who is yet to play international cricket since he injured himself during the Adelaide Test win last December. He is not part of the limited-overs teams anymore, and was left out of the Tests in the West Indies where Ravindra Jadeja was India’s only spinner.

More to follow…