Rishabh Pant didn't fit well, feel former India wicketkeepers Nayan Mongia and Farokh Engineer

Updated: Mar 04, 2020, 07:55 IST | Harit N Joshi | Mumbai

Former India wicketkeepers Nayan Mongia and Farokh Engineer feel Wriddhiman Saha should've been picked over Rishabh Pant for NZ Tests on pure 'keeping ability; ex-stumper Kiran More believes otherwise

India 'keeper Rishabh Pant on Day Two of the second Test v NZ in Christchurch on Sunday. Pic/Getty Images
India 'keeper Rishabh Pant on Day Two of the second Test v NZ in Christchurch on Sunday. Pic/Getty Images

Rishabh Pant is a good subject of debate in Indian cricket. Both, his inclusions as well as exclusions, make for talking points. The young wicketkeeper-batsman is once again in the centre of a storm after India's 0-2 Test drubbing in NZ.

While head coach Ravi Shastri justified Pant's inclusion saying he provided variety with his left-handed batting besides his good wicketkeeping against fast bowling in seaming New Zealand conditions, skipper Virat Kohli has refused to blame the series loss on any individual failure.

Wriddhiman Saha
Wriddhiman Saha

Former India stumper Nayan Mongia felt the team erred in not picking the more experienced Wriddhiman Saha. "I have always maintained that if Saha is fit and performing, he should be playing in Tests. I have no second thoughts about this. It looks like the team management is looking for a batsman more than a wicketkeeper. Wicketkeeping is a specialist job in Test matches whether it is spin or pace-friendly situation," Mongia told mid-day on Tuesday.

Another former India stumper—Farokh Engineer—also picked Saha over Pant in the wicketkeeping department. "Purely on wicketkeeping skills for a Test match, Saha is a better choice," said Engineer. However, from a complete package point of view, Engineer's choice is Pant. "If you compare the batting aspect, Pant can change the complexion of a game. So, playing Pant was not a bad idea. I wouldn't say it was a disaster. He didn't do anything wrong behind the stumps," said Engineer.

Farokh Engineer
Farokh Engineer

Former India wicketkeeper and ex-chairman of selectors, Kiran More felt Pant was brilliant behind the stumps in the Tests. "Pant has not kept badly. In both Tests, he did a good job. He did well behind the stumps in England and Australia too. He is learning quickly. You can't fault his wicketkeeping," said More.

However, having aggregated just 60 runs in the two Tests with a highest score of only 25, Pant's batting has been criticised, with suggestions that Saha would've been a better choice in this aspect. "Saha is a technically sound batsman. he has a good, solid defence too which is important in these conditions. So Saha would have definitely been the ideal choice here," said Mongia.

Kiran More
Kiran More

Engineer too was disappointed with Pant's ultra-cautious batting approach.

"He [Pant] kept getting beaten. He had to save the Test but at the same time, also needed to get some runs. Had he tried to be flashy, he would have been ostracised for throwing away his wicket. The poor chap was in a dilemma. But when he was at sea, that's when he should have tried to get behind the ball and play some shots. If I was captain, I would have told him to play his natural game more. He was playing an unnatural game," said Engineer. More, though, refused to single out Pant for India's batting failure. "If you look at the batting, it's been an overall failure. You can't blame one or two batsmen for it," he said.

Nayan Mongia
Nayan Mongia

Engineer too was disappointed with Pant's ultra-cautious batting approach. "He [Pant] kept getting beaten. He had to save the Test but at the same time, also needed to get some runs. Had he tried to be flashy, he would have been ostracised for throwing away his wicket. The poor chap was in a dilemma. But when he was at sea, that's when he should have tried to get behind the ball and play some shots. If I was captain, I would have told him to play his natural game more. He was playing an unnatural game," said Engineer.

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