Mohali: 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 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 today, 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 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 the 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.