Pant or Saha? India has a tough decision to make, says Gilchrist

Adam Gilchrist says Rishabh Pant has a lot of promise in him and is confident of the wicketkeeper batsman learning to balance aggression with defence.

Adam Gilchrist believes Virat Kohli will break all major batting records.   -  Getty Images

They do not call him the greatest wicket-keeper batsman ever for nothing. The game-changing Adam Gilchrist could take the match away from the opposition in a hurry with the bat or the big gloves.

The Aussie legend spoke to Sportstar here on Friday.

Asked about Rishabh Pant’s wicket-keeping, Gilchrist said, “There is a lot of promise in him. He moves well, has energy. He has a good base to work on. He has dropped a couple of diving catches in the series but they were not due to faulty positioning, they were owing to glove work.”

Gilchrist added, “Pant has been caught out a few times getting up too early and ahead of the bounce while standing up. He will learn to stay low and rise with the bounce.”

Gilchrist felt ‘keeping was a lot about practice. “The only exception to that was M.S. Dhoni. I have hardly seen him practise ‘keeping. He would rather come in and bowl than practice ‘keeping!”

“I think it should be left to the bowling group to make that decision, whether they want Saha’s high quality glovework behind the stumps or the extra runs by Pant. Saha himself is a very good batsman.”

Talking about Pant’s often belligerent left-handed batting, Gilchrist said, “Pant is exciting to watch, bats without inhibitions. He attacks the bowlers, is flamboyant. As time goes on, he will learn to balance his aggression with defence.”

Gilchrist felt India had a tough decision to make when Wriddhiman Saha returned from injury. “I think it should be left to the bowling group to make that decision, whether they want Saha’s high quality glovework behind the stumps or the extra runs by Pant. Saha himself is a very good batsman.”

And the Aussie icon considered Tim Paine the best men’s wicket-keeper in the world. “He is balanced, has soft hands, is excellent both standing back and up. I think Sarah Taylor is very good in women’s cricket. She’s technically brilliant.”

READ: Pujara, Pant put India in command

Gilchrist was a ‘walker’ who did not wait for the umpire’s decision. He said, “I thought after DRS came in, more batsmen would `walk’. But that’s not happened. Batsmen are standing their ground. It’s a personal call. I thought I had to take personal ownership when I knew I was out.”

I think the Indian planning has been exceptional. They have been smart, quick to act. For instance dropping both openers mid-way through the series in Melbourne was a bold decision.”

The Aussie superstar felt the Indian pace attack had been a big factor in the ongoing series. “Statistically, they are doing better than the West Indian quicks of the ’80s. It doesn’t mean they are the better than the Caribbean fast bowlers but it certainly says they have been very effective.”

With India set to win its first Test series in Australia, Gilchrist said, “I think the Indian planning has been exceptional. The have been smart, quick to act. For instance dropping both openers mid-way through the series in Melbourne was a bold decision.”

READ: Team has given me freedom to express myself, says Pant

Gilchrist elaborated, “But Vihari batted 60-odd deliveries to keep the scoreboard ticking. And he also protected India’s most precious asset in the series, Cheteshwar Pujara, from the new ball.”

Asked about the most influential player in the series, Gilchrist said, “Kohli has been good but Pujara has been the difference between the two sides.”

The Aussie rated Kohli very high. “When he finishes, I think Kohli would have broken all major batting records. He will be among the best batsmen ever, no question about that. As captain, he has been aggressive and motivated his men well in this series.”

Queried about the Aussie decline and the preference given to Big Bash over first-class domestic cricket when an important Test series was on, Gilchrist said, “The Aussies need to look at their priorities. There are areas of concern. We need to look at our programme, our domestic structure.”

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Following the ball-tampering episode and its aftermath, weren’t the Aussies becoming soft on the field? Gilchrist responded. “It’s actually an awkward situation for the Aussies. If they are aggressive on the field, people will say they are crossing the line again. And if they do not do so, many will say the Australians have become soft.”

He was unhappy about Kohli being booed when he came out to bat at the SCG. “It’s sad when any cricketer is treated this way.”