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Thursday, December 1, 2016

Parthiv Patel back after 8 years ! - could it have been Rishab Pant ?

The 3rd Test between India & England begins at Mohali on 26th Nov 2016.

In a recent, Ranji match, Delhi's top order responded strongly after being asked to follow on, scoring 214 for the loss of three wickets. When Pant's turn came, he walked out to bat on an empty stomach, again. "I get very little time for breakfast," he said with a laugh. "Because, every day I either have batting or wicket-keeping [drills before play]. That's the system in every match."

India have brought Bhuvneshwar Kumar back into their squad for the last three Tests against England. They have also left out Gautam Gambhir, leaving M Vijay and KL Rahul as the only two specialist openers in the squad. Gambhir, released from the squad during the second Test in Visakhapatnam, is playing for Delhi in their Ranji Trophy match against Rajasthan in Wayanad, and was out for 10 in the first innings.   

Nick Compton wants India pulled out of comfort zone and Series could be won as they did in 2012-13.  Earlier, David Gower's 1984-85 tourists managed to beat India after being one down with four to play, but cricket was different then, and the absolutely critical key for England when playing India in the modern, 21st-century, contemporary, up-to-date era of today is to be one down with three to play.  Statistics could be misleading ! - Over the last one third of a century, England have won 100% of their series against India in which they have trailed by a Test with a trio of matches remaining; and a mere 50% of the rubbers which they have led with three Tests to play. But what happens only forms the basis of statistics !

More than eight years after his previous Test match, and four years after his last international, wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel has earned a recall to India's Test team. At 17 years and 153 days, he became Test cricket's youngest wicketkeeper in 2002; now he will be the second-oldest member in the XI if no other change is made to the side that took field in Visakhapatnam. Is that the right move ?  the first option was Madhya Pradesh's Naman Ojha, who played the last Test that Saha missed. Ojha missed the start of the Ranji Trophy with injury. However, he did play MP's last match. Dinesh Karthik, has been making lot of runs, but that also set the clock back in recalling veterans.  Some say that the selectors felt it was too early to hand a debut to the 19-year-old Rishabh Pant, who has hit a triple-hundred for Delhi this Ranji Trophy season and smashed a 48-ball ton in a game in which he scored twin centuries.

Rishabh Pant is known to followers of Indian Cricket after his good show in the Under-19 World Cup.  In group matches, he slammed 3  successive fifty-plus score to guide India into the semi-finals.  He  blasted the fastest U-19 international half-century during the win against Nepal, scored 111 off 96 balls with 14 fours and two sixes, powering his team to a mammoth 349 for 6. From that time on, he is being talked as successor to the great MSD.

Against Jharkhand, he took mere 48 balls to reach his century in the second innings against Jharkhand - one of the fastest hundreds by an Indian batsman in domestic first-class cricket. Two batsmen have scored a century off 56 balls: Rajesh Borah in 1987-88 and VB Chandrasekhar in 1988-89. 

He hit 21 sixes in that match - 8 in the first innings and 13 in the second. The previous record by an Indian player was 15 sixes by Yusuf Pathan in the Duleep Trophy final in 2009-10. Pant has hit 44 sixes this season, the most by a distance.  

113.01 Pant's strike rate this season, the best among batsmen who have faced 100 or more balls. He had a strike rate of over 100 in six out of seven innings this season, and the only innings in which he did not do so was his triple-century - 308 off 326 balls.

One may jump to say that things at Test level would be different ~ yet Ranji is a measurable yardstick. The young keeper has covered a lot of distance, switched schools, moved bases in the hunt for a coach and was even thrown out of an academy once. His swashbuckling record-breaking fifty against Nepal established his credentials on the big stage and probably inflated his going rate to Rs 1.9 crore from a base price of Rs 10 lakh by the time he was bought by Delhi Daredevils.

~ and if someone says that he is too young, the one who is back in the Indian team @ 31, debuted 3 years before Dhoni as a 17 year old and is back after 8 years !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

24th Nov. 2016.

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