Rishabh Pant may be the flavour this domestic cricket season but chief coach Anil Kumble feels that Parthiv Patel’s experience as well as better “keeping skills” have enabled him to make a comeback into the Indian Test side after eight long years.
“Parthiv has been really consistent both with his keeping as well as his batting. That’s why Parthiv was chosen. Rishabh has certainly shown the exuberance a young cricketer can bring in. He has shown a lot of batting skills. He has obviously got a lot of runs in domestic cricket. But Parthiv was chosen for his keeping skills and his experience,” Kumble said on Thursday, giving a peek into his thought process on Patel’s selection.
The coach also made it clear that Wriddhiman Saha, who is a few notches above his peers in terms of glovework, still remains the first-choice keeper of the Test team which may well mean that Mohali will be the only chance for Parthiv to prove himself.
“I think it’s unfortunate that Saha is missing out in this Test match. He suffered a strain on the final day of the Test match. We wanted him to play. He was obviously in the starting line-up but yesterday’s scans showed there was a little bit of tendonitis. That’s why it was better that we gave him a break from this Test match,” Kumble briefed about the No.1 keeper’s injury.
Lavishing praise on Pant’s youthful exuberance, Kumble made it clear as to why Dinesh Karthik, who has had a far better season with the willow compared to the Gujarat stumper, failed to make the cut. The reason is he is not keeping wickets for his state side Tamil Nadu.
Some of Karthik’s recent Ranji Trophy scores are 163, 73, 95, 65 and 80 while Parthiv has 53, 61, 60 and 139 to show for his efforts. In batting, Rishabh has been in prime form with 874 runs that includes four hundreds. He has scored a triple ton and the fastest hundred this season.
But just like the new selection committee has put some protocols in place, Karthik, despite his ability to play game-changing knocks, will not be considered till he again dons the big gloves.
“Regarding Dinesh, at the moment, I don’t think he is keeping wickets for Tamil Nadu and I am not sure why that is a case. But, at the moment, from what I gather he is not keeping wickets.”
It was learnt that Karthik has a hand injury which prompted him to purely play as a batsman. N Jagadeesan has been keeping wickets for Tamil Nadu.
Having travelled to Mohali from Hubbali in Karnataka, where Gujarat were playing Mumbai, Parthiv expectedly spent more time than others at the optional net session which was attended by the likes of skipper Virat Kohli, Ravichandran Ashwin and Mohammed Shami.
He did separate routines to hone his glovework under the watchful eyes of fielding coach R Sridhar.
At first, it was flat catches as Sridhar hit the tennis balls. A few popped out of his gloves as the routine went for around 15 minutes.
Post that, Parthiv did two different drills specific to keeping against spinners.
Sridhar, who was a left-arm spinner during his playing days, was seen bowling to single stump as one of the support staff did shadow batting.
Sridhar was replicating for Ravindra Jadeja with support staff taking a left-handed stance. He then had a bat at the nets alongside Karun Nair before again coming back for his second set of keeping drills.
This time it was Sanjay Bangar standing from 10 yards firing the balls with Sridhar trying to edge. The idea was to latch onto the fast nicks off the spinners.
Knowing fully well that he will have to forego his place the moment Saha gets fit, Parthiv will go for broke as this could well be his last chance for international redemption.
Kumble praises R Ashwin, Jayant Yadav
The coach also praised spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Jayant Yadav, not only for the way they have bowled but for their batting contributions too.
“He (Ashwin) has done an exceptional job starting from West Indies. When Rohit (Sharma) played and we played only four bowlers and six batters, Ashwin batted at No 7. We need that fifth bowler to pick up 20 wickets. That’s why he is consistently batting at No 6.
“Workload is something that you keep talking about but if you ask Ashwin, he is certainly enjoying batting at No 6 and doing what he is good at — both with bat and ball,” the coach waxed eloquent about one of his two premier match-winners.
Asked to comment on Jayant, Kumble gave his assessment of the youngster.
“Interactions that I have had, he (Jayant) comes across as a balanced individual. He had a dream (Test) debut. He contributed with bat and ball and a brilliant fielding effort in the first innings. Overall, you can’t ask for more. As a youngster coming into this team, he showed a lot of character, lot of maturity, although he was playing his first match.
“Jayant handled batting with the lower order, especially with (Mohammad) Shami (in the 2nd innings) getting those 30-40 runs. The way he bowled was quite impressive. It augurs well for Indian cricket that someone who is just coming into the team has shown that kind of approach,” said Kumble.
On the Mohali track, which has been aiding spinners of late, Kumble said he was not worried about the conditions. “Certainly gone a lot slower than what it used to be in the 90s. Having said that, I am certainly not someone who gives too much importance to the conditions.
“We need to play good cricket. I certainly believe we played good cricket in Rajkot and Vizag. That’s why we are 1-0 ahead in series and we have to repeat that in Mohali, no matter what the conditions are. Like I said over the years, it has certainly gone slower, not necessarily what it used to be in the 90s.”
Like skipper Virat Kohli stated after the second Test, Kumble also felt that the defensive mindset of the English batsmen only helped the Indian team.
“Their approach when we realised that they were not going for runs and looking to survive, it becomes lot easier as a bowling unit, the time to take 10 wickets may be slightly longer. There was no frustration. There was always belief, definitely in the ability of our bowling attack.
“Obviously, in the first 50 overs, we didn’t get wickets and in the next 50 overs, we got all 10. So it was just a matter of time when you play like that. Our attack was pretty relentless from everyone without an exception,” he concluded.