Saha over Pant as India name XI for Vizag Test

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India have included Wriddhiman Saha in place of Rishabh Pant as their wicketkeeper for the first Test of the three-match series against South Africa beginning Wednesday at the ACA-VDCA Stadium.

The announcement was made by skipper Virat Kohli at the press conference on Tuesday. This will be the first time in over a year that Saha will turn out for the Indian Test team.

“Saha is fit and fine to go and he is going to start for us this series,” Kohli said. “His keeping credentials are there for everyone to see and he has played well for us whenever he has got a chance with the bat. It’s been unfortunate that he was out for such a long period because of an injury. According to me, he is the best keeper in the world. So based on what he has done for us in the past, he starts for us.”

Saha last played for India in the first Test of their 2018 tour of South Africa in January. He was India’s first choice wicketkeeper in Tests until then but a shoulder injury that required surgery kept him out for the rest of the year and most of the next. In this time, India experimented with Dinesh Karthik before giving Pant a go during their tours of England and Australia.

Pant made a good start to his Test career but his poor returns in limited-overs cricket and in the recent Test series in West Indies had led to question marks over whether he should be the first choice wicketkeeper in Tests ahead of Saha.

Meanwhile, India have also excluded Umesh Yadav and have gone with two spinners – Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja and two pacers: Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami for the Visakhapatnam Test.

India XI: Virat Kohli (Capt), Ajinkya Rahane (vc), Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Hanuma Vihari, R Ashwin, R Jadeja, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Ishant Sharma, Md Shami

Visakhapatnam, Oct 1 (IANS)

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