Pant's Sydney slip-ups highlight India's keeping dilemma
SYDNEY: Rishabh Pant dropped two catches in the third test against Australia on Thursday, giving further ammunition to detractors who say he should be dropped as India's test wicketkeeper in favour of Wriddhiman Saha.
Since Pant's test debut in 2018, India have faced the dilemma whether to pick 36-year-old Saha, considered technically the best glovesman in India, or Pant who is far more flamboyant with the bat.
Pant's keeping has been under constant scrutiny and the stumper dropped Australia's debutant opener Will Pucovski twice on the rain-hit opening day of the third test to renew that debate.
Pucovski was on 26 when he edged Ravichandran Ashwin but Pant, standing up to the off-spinner, spilled the catch.
The opener had added another six runs to his tally when he gloved a short delivery from Mohammed Siraj and Pant scurried back and leapt but could not complete the catch.
Saha kept wickets in the first test in Adelaide but Pant replaced him in Melbourne and has retained his place in Sydney.
Pant averages 0.86 dropped catches per test played since 2018, which is worst among all the keepers who have played 10 matches in that time, according to CricViz, which specialises in cricket data analysis.
Pant's catch success percentage against spin (56%) is significantly lower than against pace (93%), it said.
The wicketkeeper was trolled on social media after his slip-ups but team mate Siraj offered words of consolation.
"It's part of the game, we all drop catches," Siraj said.
"Bowlers do get a little frustrated when catches are dropped but you can't help it."
Former India stumper Parthiv Patel detected a flaw in Pant's technique against spinners.
"He was trying to catch with hard hands," Patel, who played 25 tests and 38 ODIs between 2002-2018, told Cricbuzz website.
"On a difficult track like this, you have to try and catch with soft hands. Also, your fingers should point downwards, and not forward," Patel added.