Rishabh Pant announced himself on the international Test cricket scene with two brilliant centuries in England and Australia respectively. He also had a couple of score in the 90s against West Indies and with it has pushed Wriddhiman Saha down the order.
Former India stumper Deep Dasgupta thinks that Pant’s such brilliance with the bat and his record-setting exploits with the gloves have now made it difficult for Saha to make a comeback in the side. Saha has been out of cricket ever since his thumb injury and shoulder surgery during the tour of South Africa and the team management tried Parthiv Patel and Dinesh Karthik before settling on Pant.
Dasgupta said about Saha’s return, “It's like any other route, there is IPL which will happen and then you know try and come back. The most important thing is the fact that he is fit enough to play in a match situation. First, you have to prove to yourself and everyone else that you fit and ready to go.”
The next Test assignment for India will be the tour of West Indies as part of the ICC Test Championship and Dasgupta feels that Saha should be included in the squad for the Caribbean tour.
“It's going to be a tough one. What I see ahead is a good competition when he's back. These two are according to me No.1 and 2. It's going to be difficult for Saha, because of the way Rishabh is batting and scoring runs. If I have to pick a wicketkeeper for the first Test match in West Indies, I will start off with Rishabh. But having said that I also see Wriddhiman Saha being part of that squad,” said Dasgupta.
Dasgupta also said that he doesn’t think Saha’s injury was mishandled by the team management. He said, “I don't think the team management handled Saha's injury badly. Every injury has its own time recuperation. You cannot push it because the moment you do that, then there is a good chance of that injury coming back. He's been operated and a lot of care which has been taken in Bengaluru with the BCCI physios and trainers present. Ajay Ratra was appointed to help him out as well. I think he's been looked after well.”
Talking about Rishabh Pant, Dasgupta felt that he still has some way to go when it comes to wicketkeeping.
He said, “Rishabh Pant will get better with time, with more experience. He's working on it. I was there for the semi-finals in Bengaluru and I saw him working really hard on his wicketkeeping. It's very easy for us to say he needs to work x, y, z... but the bottom line is he needs to figure out what works for him. And that he will figure out with hard work and practice.”
Dasgupta felt that Pant can learn a lot from MS Dhoni when it comes to wicketkeeping.
He said, “Just like Dhoni, when he came into the side initially.... Even Rishabh is a work in progress. Let's not forget he's only 21-22. He needs to try and figure out what works for him. When you look at MSD, he looks very unorthodox but he's brilliant. Pant himself needs to figure out what he needs to improve on as a wicketkeeper and batsman.”
Lastly, Dasgupta gave his thoughts on all-rounder Vijay Shankar saying, “It is unfair to compare Vijay Shankar and Hardik Pandya. How I see it is Hardik Pandya is somebody who India will get 10 overs out of. If you see him since the South Africa series, more often than not he's bowled his full quota of 10 overs.”
“Vijay Shankar is more of a batsman who can bowl. I would look at Shankar completely differently, I would look at him as the sixth bowling option. I think team management is also looking at him as a batsman who can bowl. He is a proper top-order batsman, Vijay Shankar,” he added.