Rishabh Pant is not a finished product yet, says Deep Dasgupta

Pant’s outing as a stumper has left the house divided on whether the young gun is actually ready to outclass Wriddhiman Saha and take over as the regular stumper in the longer format?

Is ‘wicketkeeper’ Rishabh Pant (second from right) ready for Test cricket?   -  AFP

Is ‘wicketkeeper’ Rishabh Pant ready for Test cricket? That’s a question that did the rounds at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium on Saturday afternoon, even after India sealed its highest victory against the West Indies.

What led to the question was the fact that the young wicketkeeper had leaked 21 byes — 16 in the first innings and five in the second — and even dropped two catches. While his batting prowess has earned praises from the pundits, Pant’s outing as a stumper has left the house divided on whether the young gun is actually ready to outclass Wriddhiman Saha and take over as the regular stumper in the longer format?

While commentating for radio, India great Syed Kirmani, admitted that the youngster needs to keep his basics right in a bid to go far, two other former stumpers — Deep Dasgupta and Ajay Ratra — believe that Pant still needs some time to be completely ready for the longer format.

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“He is not a finished product yet. He is just 21 and has played Ranji Trophy for two years, so you will have to give him a bit more time to get settled,” Dasgupta told Sportstar.

Having donned the India colours in the past, Dasgupta believes that a wicketkeeper faces the most challenging task when he stands behind the stumps and a spinner bowls. “Keeping against spinners on Indian surfaces is always a daunting task and it can’t get more challenging than this. You need to pick things up from here,” Dasgupta, now a television commentator, said.

While batsman Pant excites Dasgupta, he makes it clear that with time and a bit more fine-tuning, Pant can overcome the odds. “You have to treat him well. He has had an early start and you need to give him a longer rope. You just can’t make him sit out if he fails in one or two occasions,” Dasgupta stated, drawing reference to Parthiv Patel.

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Patel, who was drafted in the Indian side in 2002, at the age of 17, failed to cement his place and has so far featured in only 25 Tests. “Rishabh is young, so it is important that he is properly guided and is given the time. You cannot afford to just pick him suddenly and drop him after a few matches. If you are looking at the longer run, then you have to be patient with him,” Dasgupta reasoned.

Ratra, who has seen Pant closely at the National Cricket Academy (NCA), feels that representing India is always a big challenge and the stumper-batsman needs to handle the pressure. “He is a very talented batsman. Scoring tons in England is tough, but he could play at ease. But, as far as keeping is concerned, it needs a bit of refining,” Ratra, who played six Tests and 12 ODIs for India, said.

He, however, feels that with the tournaments like the Indian Premier League (IPL) coming in, the confidence level is higher among youngsters. “The tournaments like the IPL has helped cricketers hone the skills and gain more experience.”

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But then, playing for the country is a different ball game. “There will always be pressure on you, but how you handle that will define you as a player. Pant comes with immense talent and potential, he just needs to refine a little,” the former stumper said.

While both Dasgupta and Ratra are confident of seeing Pant bloom in the longer run, they feel that all the youngster needs some time. After all, just four Tests are too early to make a judgment.