Parthiv Patel: ‘My keeping better than ever before’

Parthiv Patel says he is ready to don the gloves for India anytime

Parthiv Patel feels he has improved a lot as a wicket-keeper.   -  M. Vedhan

Not since Sachin Tendulkar has anyone with a face as cherubic as Parthiv Patel made a Test debut. Many might still recall the baby-faced, small-made, Ahmedabad lad defying a five-pronged pace attack of England that included Steve Harmison, Dominic Cork and Andrew Flintoff to help India save the match in Nottingham, way back in 2002.

At 17, he had become the world’s youngest ever wicket-keeper. Fifteen years later, he, of course, looks a lot more mature: sporting a beard, which has even greyed a bit.

His keeping has matured, too.

He looked in great touch with the gloves in the Ranji Trophy match for Gujarat against Kerala, which concluded here on Tuesday. “I have been working hard on my keeping of late,” Parthiv told The Hindu shortly after leading the host to a four-wicket victory in a well-contested match. “I feel I am now keeping the wicket better than I have ever done before.”

"I am quite ready as a standby. These days I have two separate sessions — for batting and keeping."

 

The national selectors also took note of that last year; he was added as a back-up to M.S. Dhoni for the Asia Cup and then replaced an injured Wriddhiman Saha in the home Test series against England.

The third Test at Mohali was his first in eight years. The only common factor besides himself from his previous Test — against Sri Lanka at Colombo in 2008 — was Anil Kumble; but the spin legend was the coach.

READ: ‘Parthiv did a brilliant job'

“It was exciting to be part of the team led by Virat Kohli,” the 32-year-old said. “And it felt nice to have done well on my comeback and contributed to the team.”

He is waiting for similar opportunities. “I am quite ready as a standby,” he said. “These days I have two separate sessions — for batting and keeping.”

He also seems to be enjoying captaincy. He had led Gujarat, from the front, to its maiden Ranji Trophy title last season.

After scoring 90 in the first innings in the final against Mumbai at Indore, he made an unbeaten 143 in the second to lead the team’s successful chase. He also led Gujarat to victories in the domestic one-day and T20 championships. “I have been captaining Gujarat for 10 years now,” he said. “It is a challenge that I enjoy.”

He said he wasn’t thinking of defending Ranji Trophy at the moment. “It is one match a time for me,” he said. “I am delighted, though, that we could begin our campaign on a winning note. And it is great to see young left-arm spinner Siddharth Desai making a dream debut to his career.”

On his return to the Indian Test team after a gap of eight years, he had scores of 42, 67 n.o., 15 and 71, against England.

In Chennai, he opened in place of injured Murali Vijay — after keeping wickets for 157 overs — and put on 152 for the first wicket with K.L. Rahul.

He fared well behind the stumps too, with 11 catches and two stumpings in the three matches he played.

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