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Has Rishabh Pant ended Wriddhiman Saha’s chance of making a comeback? Anil Kumble gives his opinion

Saha was forced out of action for major part of 2018 with a series of injuries.

Rishabh Pant
Rishabh Pant. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

For a long time, there was a debate on who would fill Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s gigantic shoes in Indian cricket. India tried and tested a number of keepers ever since Dhoni retired during the Australia tour of 2014-15 though no long-term solution was found. Wriddhiman Saha came closest to being Dhoni’s worthy successor but his long stint with injury forced him out while Parthiv Patel and Dinesh Karthik remained strugglers in the longer format.

After a considerable stretch of playing musical chair, India found a fresh face in Rishabh Pant and he made an impressive start to his longer format career in England. In the three series he has played so far, the 21-year-old has already picked up two hundreds and two 90-plus scores.

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Pant’s 159 in the third Test in Sydney made him the Indian wicketkeeper with the highest score in Australia and almost the highest-scoring foreign keeper Down Under. The knock will now put the wicketkeeper’s berth up for grabs both for Pant and Saha who played his last Test in South Africa a year ago and has three hundreds in the longer format at an average of.

With Pant emerging fast and after his stellar show in Australia where he also effected 20 dismissals, is there still a chance for Saha making a comeback? Former India captain and the country’s highest wicket-taker in Tests Anil Kumble is of the opinion that the timing of the Bengal wicketkeeper’s injury was unfortunate and the Delhi gloveman came up fast to fill the void with his batting despite the former being the “best (keeper) in the world”.

Pant has grabbed opportunity to both hands

“It is unfortunate for Saha. He has had the injury and the timing has been totally wrong because India have travelled at that time. He only plays one format of the game. Saha is a brilliant keeper, the best in the world, he has contributed with the bat immensely. But Pant has grabbed the opportunity with both hands. Not just with his keeping.

Yes, he needs to improve on his keeping. He is still young and will continue to improve. But his batting has been a revelation. For Saha, it is tough for him to come back. He has to do something really amazing in domestic cricket. He will be part of the squad, but Pant will be ahead of him with his batting,” Kumble said while answering a fan’s query on CricketNext.

Saha last played in the Indian Premier League in 2018 and is yet to take part in any competitive game in domestic cricket since. Time is truly running out for the talented wicketkeeper-batsman who is recovering from his shoulder injury. However, cricket is known to be a game for its ruthlessness.

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