Saha gets nod ahead of Pant for Test series opener

India skipper Virat Kohli claimed Wriddhiman Saha as the best wicketkeeper in the world and is India's first-choice for the first Test against South Africa.

Wriddhiman Saha in training ahead of the first Test against South Africa.   -  AFP

Wriddhiman Saha is set to don the gloves again in Test whites as skipper Virat Kohli confirmed the former's selection in the playing XI ahead of Rishabh Pant against South Africa in Visakhapatnam on Wednesday.

The 34-year-old last played a Test match in January 2018 in South Africa where he suffered both a hamstring and a shoulder injury, which kept him out of action for the rest of the year.

READ | Saha back in the game after months on recovery road

Saha, then, made a return to competitive cricket after a surgery to his shoulder at the Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy earlier this year. He also featured in five matches for Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League (IPL), where he scored 86 runs with a fifty to his name.

 

His road back to the national team continued through the India-A set up when he toured the West Indies in July. Successive fifties against the West Indies-A earned him his call-up back into the Indian Test side, where youngster Pant had rapidly made an impression in Saha's absence.

Pant averages 44.35 in 11 matches and has a Test hundred each in England and Australia.

The Bengal cricketer sat on the bench in the two-Test series against the Windies but the team management has preferred Saha over Pant ahead of India's Test home season.

“Yes, Saha is fit and fine to go. He is going to start the series for us. His keeping credentials are for everyone to see. He has done well with the bat whenever he has got a chance,” said Kohli on the eve of the first Test.

READ | Saha happy to help teammate Rishabh Pant

“It was unfortunate that he was out with an injury. According to me, he is the best keeper in the world. With these conditions he starts for us,” he added.

Saha has three hundreds in 32 matches averaging a little over 30 with the bat.