Since Mahendra Singh Dhoni departed from the Test cricket in 2014, an on-going debate has been going about who would fill his shoes of a wicket-keeper batsman at number six or seven. MS Dhoni’s immediate replacement was Wriddhiman Saha, who has been one of the regular names in the Indian Test since then. Saha played 37 Test matches in his Test career out of which he scored 1,238 with three centuries and five fifties with an average of 30.19.
Rishabh Pant also earned a place for himself in the whites for team India after having a couple of good IPL seasons. Virat Kohli has shown immense faith in the 23-year old Pant who made his Test debut in England 2018, after scoring a hundred in the foreign conditions, the southpaw cemented his place in the Indian team for the longest format of the game. Pant scored 814 runs in his 14 matches with an average of 44.35. The Delhi batsman has two centuries and half-centuries each to his name.
Since the beginning of January 2019, Saha played five Test matches. His glovework was commendable but managed to score only 74 runs at an average of 24.66 with the highest score of 24.
Pant also featured in five Test matches since the start of 2019. The southpaw managed to score 277 runs at an average of 39.57. Pant’s unbeaten 159 at Sydney added a huge chunk of runs to his name. The Delhi Capital batsman’s glovework and inconsistency with the bat are questionable.
Saha’s work behind the stumps is undoubtedly superior to Rishabh Pant but the former’s record in Australia is considerably poor with the bat. In three Test matches, the 36-year-old scored 111 runs with a best of 35 at an average of 19.
Meanwhile, Pant scored a massive 350 runs at an average of 58.33 in four Test matches of Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2018-19. Those numbers shouldn’t be completely accountable for his selection ahead of the first Test match as his performance has deteriorated since then.
Pant has that X-factor which could change the course of the game while Saha is the best wicket-keeper of the country at the moment. Selecting an eligible wicket-keeper batsman for the first Test match will be a big task for the Indian selectors along with the skipper Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri.