Ravichandran Ashwin, the hero of India’s performance on the second day of the second test against England, praised wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant for his excellent displays behind the stumps. Pant has perpetually been receiving flak for his wicket-keeping skills ever since he made his debut. He has also invariably been compared to former Indian wicket-keeper MS Dhoni as well as the other keeper in the squad, Wriddhiman Saha.
Pant proved his doubters wrong on day 2 however, as he plucked two stunning one-handed catches to remove Ollie Pope and Jack Leach. He dived to his left on both occasions and held on to complete difficult grabs. With his batting shining brighter than ever and his keeping now improving, it certainly seems like Rishabh Pant has consolidated his permanent place in the Indian test side as the keeper-batsman.
Ravichandran Ashwin speaks on Rishabh Pant’s wicket-keeping and going past Harbhajan Singh
After picking up his 29th five-wicket haul in Tests, Ashwin spoke at a post-match virtual press conference and was asked about Rishabh Pant’s wicket-keeping and catching. “With respect to Rishabh Pant’s keeping, the name of the game is confidence. He has been batting well and he has been working incredibly hard on his keeping as well. When you are constantly being compared to someone who has done well for years, it can be really hard,” Ashwin said.
Speaking further about the comparisons, “I really do feel for Rishabh on a lot of occasions even when I am watching games from home when he is playing the white-ball format. He was constantly compared with the great MS Dhoni for a long time and now he gets compared for his wicket-keeping with Saha. I think sometimes it is better to give a break and let people build on the confidence. And he definitely got the ability, that is why he is here and I have no doubt, he will go from strength to strength from here on,” he added.
Ashwin also spoke about getting past Harbhajan Singh in the wickets tally in Test cricket and said, “Lot of my teammates from that age, from that generation, you know, used to make fun of me, because I used to bowl like Bhajju Pa, my action, I used to try and bowl like him and all that. So, from there on to come one and actually break the record of something that he possesses, has to be incredibly special. I didn’t know of it, now that I do know of it, I feel happy. Sorry, Bhajju Pa.”
Ashwin then spoke of playing in front of his home crowd and said, “It is wonderful to have the crowd back. We had not played with crowds in India for a long time and the Indian cricket fans were also waiting to get back and watch the sport. Also, playing in front of my home crowd is always special for me and to get 5 wickets here is something that I will always cherish and in front of the crowd is even better.”
India will resume tomorrow on 54/1 with a lead of 249 runs.