Rishabh Pant made his debut for the Indian Test side in the Third Test against England at Trent Bridge, Nottingham on Saturday. The 20-year old Delhi wicketkeeper-batsman became the sixth player to make his Test debut for India before turning 21. With meek batting performances in first two Tests, Pant’s inclusion is a welcome change to see if an explosive batsman can help the batting order from collapsing.
Pant rose to fame after his blistering triple ton in the Ranji Trophy 2016-17 season against Maharashtra and a 48-ball century against Jharkhand. In two domestic season and 23 matches, the batsman has amassed 1744 runs, averaging 54.5, with a strike rate of 95.2. A key part of Delhi Daredevils’ franchise in the IPL, he was retained by the franchise for Rs. 8 crores for the 2018 season.
A powered packed hitter of the ball, he is known to play both pace and spin well. Though his wicket-keeping skills are a work in progress, he is an able deputy to Dinesh Karthik in the absence of first choice Test keeper Wriddhiman Saha.
Pant’s performances in India A’s shadow tour to England earlier in the summer might have persuaded the management to give the youngster a go. In the unofficial test against West Indies A at Taunton, Pant saw his team to the end with a 100-run partnership between him and Jayant Yadav. In the tri-series ODI finals against England Lions, he scored 64 off 62 to see the team home.
The left-handed batsman was seen practicing and acclimatizing in India’s first practice on Thursday at Trent Bridge. Pant batted with the top order and kept wickets with the slip cordon indicating that his debut would come on Saturday. Dinesh Karthik who remained invisible from the practice sessions missed out on making it to the squad.
Kohli, who was reeling from a sore back seemed in a little discomfort while batting also made the squad. Shikhar Dhawan who sat out the second test also made a comeback to the squad. While Murali Vijay was benched. While Kuldeep Yadav had to sit out to accommodate Jasprit Bumrah who has recovered from a finger injury.
The English team made only one change to their squad. Ben Stokes returned to the squad after not guilty judgment in the Bristol Brawl case.
India squad – Shikhar Dhawan, Lokesh Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant (w), Hardik Pandya, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah England squad – Alastair Cook, Keaton Jennings, Joe Root (c), Ollie Pope, Jonny Bairstow (w), Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes, Adil Rashid, Stuart Broad, James Anderson.