Rishabh Pant’s egress from the Test side comes across as a massive surprise.

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“There will be a rap on the knuckles, talent or no talent."

Ravi Shastri had commented about Rishabh Pant after a dismal shot, he played in the Caribbean Islands on India’s tour there. The Indian think-tank had little hesitancy in dropping Pant for the first of five Tests at home starting with the Visakhapatnam Test citing Wriddhiman Saha as the “best keeper in the world.”

This sparks a whole lot of questions at the Indian management. If they thought Saha was their best keeper, why was Pant played ahead of him in West Indies? If indeed Pant’s form is the concern, is it really his Test form that is under scrutiny?

Since his debut in Tests, Rishabh Pant has made 754 runs in 11 Tests at an average of 44.35 with two hundreds – one apiece in England and Australia – and two half-centuries. No wicket-keepers have a better average or strike rate or hundred count (min 10 innings) in this time frame.

Best averages for designated keepers in Tests since Pant's debut (min 10 innings)

Player

Mat

Runs

Avg

SR

100

50

RR Pant (INDIA)

11

754

44.35

70.79

2

2

BT Foakes (ENG)

5

332

41.5

53.8

1

1

BJ Watling (NZ)

9

442

40.18

41.11

1

3

SO Dowrich (WI)

7

368

36.8

49

1

1

Sarfaraz Ahmed (PAK)

8

390

30

66.21

0

4

N Dickwella (SL)

11

533

29.61

64.92

0

4

TD Paine (AUS)

13

470

23.5

39.79

0

2

JM Bairstow (ENG)

9

249

15.56

45.02

0

1

If the concern is keeping as has been told a few times, Pant has answers for that too.

Since his debut, no wicket-keeper has a better dismissal/innings rate as Pant. In 11 Tests, the keeper batsman has affected 53 dismissals at a rate of 2.4 dismissals/innings, the best in the world in the time frame.

Keepers with best dismissal rate since Pant's debut (min 5 innings)

Player

Mat

Dismissals

Caught

Stumped

Dismissals/Innings

RR Pant (INDIA)

11

53

51

2

2.409

Q de Kock (SA)

6

25

25

0

2.272

BJ Watling (NZ)

9

38

36

2

2.235

Sarfaraz Ahmed (PAK)

8

34

31

3

2.125

TD Paine (AUS)

13

53

51

2

2.12

JM Bairstow (ENG)

9

33

29

4

1.833

N Dickwella (SL)

11

29

27

2

1.526

SO Dowrich (WI)

7

17

17

0

1.416

BT Foakes (ENG)

5

12

10

2

1.2

Mushfiqur Rahim (BDESH)

5

7

5

2

0.7

The concern raised regarding Pant was his tendency to leak byes, a record he held at an early stage in his career after he leaked 25 byes/innings in his first four Tests, a couple of them coming at home against West Indies.

Since then though, he has improved vastly as a keeper and in Australia he beat Syed Kirmani’s and Naren Tamhane’s record of most catches by an Indian keeper in the Boxing Day Test match. He then became the fastest Indian keeper to 50 Test dismissals by beating Dhoni’s record. Since then, he hasn’t played in India and there is no evidence to suggest that his keeping hasn’t improved. With this bizarre call, Indian management have shattered the confidence of a 21-year old who is clearly their long-term future to blood a 34-year old wicket-keeper.

Feature image courtesy: AFP/ Dibyangshu Sarkar