India vs South Africa 2018: Parthiv stakes a claim to come in for Saha
In the ongoing tour of South Africa, India lost the first Test by 72 runs and Saha’s batting display was a weak link despite a big contrast in his keeping abilities.
Published - Jan 12, 2018 6:00 pm | Updated - Jan 12, 2018 6:00 pm
The Indian Test team bears two solid wicketkeepers in the present scheme of things and with both the players in an important phase of their respective careers, a healthy competition is keeping them going. Wriddhiman Saha and Parthiv Patel are both able and the former’s run of games and excellence behind the stumps sees him hold on to the position as India’s No. 1 in Test cricket.
In the ongoing tour of South Africa, India lost the first Test by 72 runs and Saha’s batting display was a weak link despite a big contrast in his keeping abilities. That’s where Parthiv could come in handy given his versatility.
Saha’s keeping attributes outshines his batting
The Bengal gloveman was the unsung hero in the side as he achieved a unique record at Newlands in Cape Town by becoming the first Indian wicketkeeper to notch 10 dismissals in a Test match. He broke MS Dhoni’s record of nine dismissals as his performance behind the stumps continues to excel.
But he isn’t a proper wicketkeeper-batsman. The issue with the senior player has been his dodgy batting especially outside the sub-continent and also at times in Asia. That is one aspect that somewhat brings an incomplete picture to Saha’s attributes. The team management’s decision to send Ravichandran Ashwin and Hardik Pandya ahead of Saha shows that they still do not know what his position in the batting order is.
After Dhoni’s retirement from Tests, one would have expected Saha to take over the baton and seal the position that the former skipper had in the side. Unfortunately, in the batting slot that hasn’t happened. Saha’s scores of 0 and 8 in the first Test did add any significance to his contribution with the bat, but his dismissals behind the stumps caught the eye of everybody instead. The team needs runs from their No. 6 and 7 and Saha needs to secure either of the positions and show he is ready to prove his mettle in Tests.
Parthiv has excelled of late
In 2016 an injury to Saha saw Parthiv get a chance in the side and the Gujarat player grabbed the opportunity with both hands. He had a decent show with the bat in the series against England in 2016 at home and played convincingly both atop and in the middle-order. He had scored 195 runs in four innings across 3 Tests vs England in 2016. That’s a feature Parthiv brings along with him and he is pretty consistent too.
One of Parthiv’s constant criticism during the previous years was his unconvincing keeping skills. His glove work was under scrutiny during his initial years but the player worked hard to rectify the flaws and is a much-accomplished keeper now. In the series against England, he did not do any wrong behind the stumps, but once Saha came back from injury, it meant Parthiv had to vacate the place once again.
Last season in the Ranji Trophy, Parthiv led Gujarat to their maiden title. He also excelled for Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League (IPL) winning the coveted trophy.
The challenge between the duo
Parthiv falls in a difficult time zone where despite his superior batting skills, he is ignored as the side’s first choice. Any team should have enough competition for places to keep the players at their toes and Parthiv provides that challenge for Saha.
The team management has backed Saha over the years since Dhoni’s exit and have immense faith in the Bengal keeper. No doubt he is one of the best in business when it comes to glovework, but with vital away series against England, Australia and New Zealand in the coming time, Parthiv will be hoping to push for a place and earn that chance to cash in on it.
Their biggest challenge will be to shine in overseas conditions with the willow.
Performances outside the sub-continent
Parthiv has toured Australia, England and New Zealand in the past and averages 21.5 with the bat and his best knock was worth 62. Saha, on the other hand, has a much lower average of just 13.75 and best of 35 runs. He has featured in just four Tests outside the sub-continent.
Could Parthiv be a surprise inclusion in 2nd Test?
India will ring in some changes in the 2nd Test and they will be hoping to get the batting line-up sorted. Virat Kohli is often known for his aggressive captaincy and there is hope for Parthiv to come in. The southpaw can open the batting alongside Murali Vijay in place of Shikhar Dhawan. That, in turn, opens up a place for Ajinkya Rahane to join the team and play alongside Rohit Sharma to bolster the middle-order.