Rishabh Pant, who seemed to have lost his spot in limited-overs cricket to KL Rahul and red ball place to a much accomplished Wriddhiman Saha, returned for the first Test against New Zealand on Friday. But the 22-year-old's selection left celebrated commentator Harsha Bhogle "disappointed".
Bhogle took to Twitter to share his views. He wrote: "Just up and see Saha is left out. We have just told every young keeper in India not to bother becoming the best in the world behind the stumps and instead focus on getting a few more runs in front of them. Disappointed."
Just up and see Saha is left out. We have just told every young keeper in India not to bother becoming the best in the world behind the stumps and instead focus on getting a few more runs in front of them. Disappointed.— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) February 21, 2020
Bhogle was, however, quick to clarify.
"Don't get me wrong. This isn't about Pant. Just think in tests you pick your best five batsmen, best four bowlers, best keeper and think about a secondary skill for number six, if at all. I hope he does well because he is a gifted young player but feel for Saha," he wrote.
Don't get me wrong. This isn't about Pant. Just think in tests you pick your best five batsmen, best four bowlers, best keeper and think about a secondary skill for number six, if at all. I hope he does well because he is a gifted young player but feel for Saha. #Lastword. https://t.co/OJwatdbLeb— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) February 21, 2020
But his first comment had already created a great divide among Indian fans. Some had questioned Bhogle's reasoning while others defended the commentator.
Here are some reactions:
Or perhaps you can tell them to let the development of keeping and batting go hand in hand and not become one-dimensional since modern-day cricket requires better skills. Or perhaps, you can go back to sleep, Harsha?— Divyanshu (@MSDivyanshu) February 21, 2020
I think a young keeper should rather look it as a signal that he has to be good enough in both departments i.e, Keeping and Runs. It's not just a few more runs btw. I'm sure you're aware of their numbers— saurabh. (@Boomrah_) February 21, 2020
Think India are looking for batting depth here Harsha. Saha clearly and by far the best keeper and I understand that's the primary task but at the same time we need runs from the lower order in foreign conditions.— Prashanth (@ps_it_is) February 21, 2020
@bhogleharsha Pant's away test record suggests he should be playing ahead of Saha. He hasn't done much wrong in this format and it's harsh to mix formats whole talking about Pant.— Prashanth (@ps_it_is) February 21, 2020
If what I'm saying is true (still a theory), then why Saha was picked in the squad is the real question!— CricketSize (@CricketSize) February 21, 2020
ðÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂðÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂ— Praharsh (@pra_802) February 21, 2020
Luckily india is not bowling first. He would be tested against swings..
Hopefully soon while batting too..ðÂÂÂÂÂ¤£
fully with you, Pant couldn't cement his place in shorter formats which are his go-to arena and now we're throwing him at tests and what costs? Saha!! that's just outright bullshit— lakeman (@lakemannnn) February 21, 2020
A good keeper's rating must include the number of runs saved and the number of times he influences the captain on taking the DRS. Pant looks poor in all of this. What's the use of those 50 runs when he effectively gives away 50 on the field.— Razor EdgeDM (@RazorEd96053802) February 21, 2020
If Saha is not picked, then Rahul is a better bet then Pant.— Sai Subramaniam (@saisudar74259) February 21, 2020
Absolutely agree, Saha is a kind of keeper who converts quarter chances into full chances and just because Rishabh Pant has scored runs overseas, he gets a knod. This decision deserves criticism.— Harsh Raj (@harsh_rajs) February 21, 2020
Defies logic...1 keeper for home , other overseas. #RishabhPant is a fine young cricketer, but #saha did no wrong to b replaced. In recent tests had to throw his bat as quick runs were needed & he is no slouch with bat (3 test 100s). Hope Pant wont b trolled if he fails #NZvIND— amitava (@amitava0112) February 21, 2020
Former India batsman Sanjay Manjrekar, who was in the studio during the lunch also expressed his views on Pant's selection, and he did wonder about the merit of having the flambouyant wicketkeeper.
India's top-order failed the seam and swing test as New Zealand reduced the visitors to 79 for 3 at lunch.
Prithvi Shaw (16 off 18 balls), Cheteshwar Pujara (11 off 42 balls) and skipper Virat Kohli (2 off 7 balls) were back in the pavilion with debutant Kyle Jamieson (2/20 in 6 overs) keeping up the pressure after Tim Southee (1/19 in 8 overs) and Trent Boult (0/36 in 8 overs) bowled a probing first spell.
Opener Mayank Agarwal (29 batting, 67 balls), who was ready to show patience, and vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane (19 batting, 34 balls) saw off the testing first session.
Once New Zealand captain Kane Williamson called the toss of the coin right under overcast conditions, it was a challenge for the Indian batsmen.