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IND v AUS 2020: Michael Hussey has his say on the Pant-Saha conundrum

Wriddhiman Saha played ahead of Rishabh Pant in the pink ball Test at Adelaide
Wriddhiman Saha played ahead of Rishabh Pant in the pink ball Test at Adelaide
Modified 23 Dec 2020, 11:49 IST

Former Australian cricketer Michael Hussey backed Wriddhiman Saha to play as India's first-choice wicketkeeper over Rishabh Pant in the Boxing Day Test at Melbourne. He opined that the selection of a wicketkeeper must be based purely on wicketkeeping skills.

Michael Hussey claimed Saha is a better wicketkeeper than Pant and supported the Indian team management's decision to play the 36-year-old in the first Test at Adelaide. Although Saha could only score a combined 13 runs in those two innings, Hussey reckons whatever runs a wicketkeeper scores is purely a bonus.

"For me it comes down to who is the better wicketkeeper and I think the selectors have made the right choice so far. Saha is an outstanding wicketkeeper and a good batsman as well. In the past, I’ve seen the run the wicketkeeper makes as a bonus. I think you go for the best wicketkeeper because you cannot afford to miss a chance behind the stumps - off spinners or the quicks," Michael Hussey told ESPNCricinfo.

Michael Hussey feels Rishabh Pant's batting ability could provide him the edge over Saha

Rishabh Pant celebrates after scoring his hundred at Sydney
Rishabh Pant celebrates after scoring his hundred at Sydney

Indian skipper Virat Kohli will play no further part in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, as he has flown back to India to await the birth of his first child. This will create a huge hole in India's batting order as the 32-year-old is the Men in Blue's best batsman.

Michael Hussey feels this could entice the Indian team management to play Pant ahead of Saha because of the southpaw's batting ability. Pant had played all four Tests of the 2018-19 Border-Gavaskar Trophy and was the second-highest run-scorer in the series. He had scored 350 runs at a brilliant average of 58.33 including a big hundred at Sydney.

Pant had also hit a blistering hundred in the pink-ball practice game against Australia A, leading into this series. Therefore, a few eyebrows were raised when Saha played ahead of him in the Adelaide Test. Michael Hussey stated Saha's lack of runs at Adelaide could just help Pant get into the playing XI.

“However, you take Virat Kohli out of the equation and you’re bringing in obviously a lesser batsman. Perhaps the extra runs that Rishabh Pant can provide does become a consideration. I’m still leaning towards sticking with Saha but I’ll be open to conversation and seeing what the senior members of the team think,” Michael Hussey said.

The second Test between India and Australia will be played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on December 26.

While the memory of the humiliating Adelaide defeat still fresh on their minds, the Indian team will need to find the courage to bounce back in the Test series.

Published 23 Dec 2020, 11:49 IST
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