Rishabh Pant has been dropped from India’s playing XI for the first Test against South Africa, captain Virat Kohli confirmed on Tuesday, October 1. Wriddhiman Saha will take the gloves in his place.
Pant’s place in the side has been under scrutiny, given his poor form. During the tour of the Caribbean in August, coach Ravi Shashtri had said the 21-year-old needed a “rap on the knuckles” for his shot selection, after Pant was dismissed for golden ducks twice against West Indies.
Pant also thereafter fared poorly in the T20Is against South Africa, and his dismissal in the second T20I for 19 after the top order had collapsed, was seen as another example of his inability to play through a tough period.
"The only expectation from Rishabh is that he read situations well."— ICC (@ICC) September 16, 2019
Virat Kohli has demanded more responsibility from Rishabh Pant 👇 https://t.co/Lbb9sEoscq
That said, Pant has a good record in Test cricket. Since making his debut against England in August 2018, he has scored 754 runs in 11 matches, including two centuries overseas.
Pant’s loss, however, is Saha’s gain. The Bengal wicket-keeper batsman has mostly been first-choice wicket-keeper for India since the retirement of MS Dhoni, but was sidelined with injury for most of 2018. He played his last Test against South Africa in January that year, and though he was available for the two Tests in the Caribbean, Pant was preferred over him.
However, Pant’s form, particularly in the limited-overs formats, has opened the door again for Saha for the South Africa Test.