India will look to Rishabh Pant to breathe new life into the side ahead of the third Test at Trent Bridge, writes ANITHA MADIKIZELA.
Doubts over the fitness and form of Dinesh Karthik – and the fact that he was seen helping Pant with wicketkeeping drills yesterday and today – have led many to believe that he could be replaced by debutant Pant in the third Test against England at Trent Bridge.
Karthik was seen exhibiting signs of pain during the Lord’s Test match and, on the third day, he was seen receiving treatment on his fingers from Indian team physio Patrick Farhart. Although he showed no further signs of distress for the rest of the Test, rumours of his replacement in the starting eleven were fuelled during Thursday’s training session.
Pant impressed in India A’s recent tour of England, scoring 189 runs at an average of 63. The wicketkeeper/batsman played superbly in the two first-class matches in that tour, during which he recorded three half-centuries. In contrast, Karthik’s first three innings in this current series yielded just one run. Pant was also spotted batting after all the specialist batsmen had finished their rounds at training, suggesting that he is warming up for one of the most important matches of his career.
The selectors have made a bold call to include him in the squad, but it seems a solid inclusion as he is the perfect replacement for an out-of-form (and injury troubled) Karthik. India coach Ravi Shastri couldn’t be baited into revealing whether Pant will indeed debut in the upcoming Test match or not.
When questioned on the topic in a media briefing on Thursday, Shastri responded, ‘About Rishabh, you will know 11am day after [tomorrow]’. While Shastri is understandably playing it cool, it does look like the writing is on the wall.
Meanwhile, Virat Kohli enjoyed a light training session and exhibited no signs of the back issues he experienced during the Lord’s Test match. Kohli was seen in the nets and took part in fielding practice as he looked set to lead India against England in the third Test. England coach Trevor Bayliss also concluded that Kohli will be fit from what he saw of the Indian training session. This comes as good news for India as they look to overturn a 2-0 deficit in the five-match Test series.
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