Chennai, February 4
Swashbuckling wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant will be preferred over the more experienced Wriddhiman Saha in the opening Test of the four-match series against England, India captain Virat Kohli said here on Thursday.
The big-ticket series, which will decide New Zealand’s opponents for the World Test Championship final, will begin here from Friday.
“Rishabh Pant will start (in the first Test). He is in good headspace and he has come along very nicely. He is working hard on all aspects of the game,” Kohli said at the pre-match press conference.
Pant’s belligerence (89 not out) in the last Test in Brisbane propelled his team to an incredible 2-1 series win over Australia recently, coming days after he nearly saw India home with a fine 97 in the third match in Sydney. And skipper Kohli is highly impressed with Pant’s showings.
“There is good reason what he did in Australia gives all of us hope going ahead.”
Pant grabbed the opportunity with both hands after Saha’s twin failures in India’s humiliating defeat in the first Test in Adelaide.
Giving an indication into the combination India might prefer in the upcoming matches against England, considered as one of the world’s most balanced sides, Kohli said, “The focus will be on bowlers who can also bat.”
Speaking about his deputy Ajinkya Rahane, who masterminded India’s memorable come-from-behind series triumph in Australia after the regular captain’s departure for the birth of his child, Kohli said both of them share a “great camaraderie”.
Incidentally, the last Test match held at Chepauk was also between India and England, played in 2016, when India won in the final session of the fifth day after England had scored 470 in their first innings. PTI