Rishabh Pant shelled two chances in quick succession in the ongoing third Test against Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground to reignite the debate over who of him or Wriddhiman Saha should take the gloves for India in Tests.
Debutant Will Pucovski was the beneficiary on both occasions. Having weathered the new-ball attack, he was on 18 off 54, when he misjudged the line and turn of a good-length Ravichandran Ashwin delivery to get a faint outside edge. Pant got his gloves to the ball but failed hang on, much to the disappointment of the bowler and captain.
Within 15 minutes, Mohammed Siraj hurried Pucovski with a sharp bouncer. The right-hander went through with the pull and the ball lobbed off the gloves over the keeper’s head. Pant leapt backwards but spilled the chance on the first attempt, before giving it another go. While he didn’t celebrate overly, his teammates congratulated him for his recovery.
The decision was sent upstairs with the soft signal being out but Bruce Oxenford, the third umpire, had it reversed, concluding that the ball hit the ground before Pant could regather.
— Wisden India (@WisdenIndia) January 7, 2021
— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) January 7, 2021
Pucovski carried on, extending a crucial partnership with Marnus Labuschagne while getting to a maiden Test fifty.
The potentially crucial drops have sparked another Pant v Saha debate on social media. While Pant’s game-changing abilities with the bat warrant him a spot in the XI for some, and allow India to field a more balanced side with an all-rounder at No.7, others are more in favour of a player with superior keeping skills. Saha is rated as one of the world’s best pure glovemen, though a couple of chances did escape him in the first Test at the Adelaide Oval.
Pant drops Pucovski off Ashwin. Then manages to drop Pucovski twice off the same ball from Siraj. When you pick keepers on batting you can’t expect different. #AUSvIND
— Anand Vasu (@anandvasu) January 7, 2021
— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) January 7, 2021
Two Catches and two dropped by Rishabh Pant. But Both tough catches and tough to take and chance.
— CricketMAN2 (@man4_cricket) January 7, 2021
Pant isn’t burning up the batting charts but is also dropping regulation catches. Can’t keep to spinners. Remind me why Saha is sitting out again?
— अंशुल (@Ghair_Kanooni) January 7, 2021
— Abhiram Alapati (@ursabhiram) January 7, 2021
I contradictory here. Sir , Saha is not good against pace and his batting is something I feel he don’t value his wicket. Too many soft dismissals. Pant need more training the way he holds. Or find a new specialist wicketkeeper in this big country
— Vijay DINAKARAN (@Vjdinakaran) January 7, 2021
Pant might be a slightly better bat than Saha and a louder voice but not even a comparison with the gloves. Costly misses here as well as the ones in Melbourne. Average against spin with stiff hands / poor technique. Feel for Saha deeply
— Darren Berry (@ChuckBerry1969) January 7, 2021