India vs Australia: ‘Runs scored by wicketkeeper are bonus’ – Michael Hussey names his pick between Wriddhiman Saha and Rishabh Pant for Melbourne Test

Following India’s forgettable batting collapse in the second innings of the Adelaide Test that saw them get bowled out for 36 – their lowest total in Tests – the team management will be looking to make certain changes for the second Test in Melbourne Starting December 26. With Virat Kohli returning to India on Tuesday and fast bowler Mohammed Shami all but out of the remainder of the series due to a fractured forearm, two changes are certain.

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But what happens to the remaining composition of the team remains to be seen. Prithvi Shaw’s place is in jeopardy, given his low scores of 0 and 4 in Adelaide, but as is Wriddhiman Saha’s spot. The India wicketkeeper had a low-key Test in Adelaide, affecting just one dismissal in both innings and scoring 4 and 9 runs. With Rishabh Pant in the squad, it is believed that the management is likely to replace the 36-year-old wicketkeeper with the youngster.

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However, former Australia batsman Michael Hussey feels the selection of a wicketkeeper should be based purely on the basis of his keeping skills, a criteria where he feels Saha trumps Pant. “For me it comes down to who is the better wicketkeeper and I think the selectors have made the right choice so far,” he said on ESPNCricinfo.

“Saha is an outstanding wicketkeeper and a good batsman as well. In the past, I’ve seen the run the wicketkeeper makes as a bonus. I think you go for the best wicketkeeper because you cannot afford to miss a chance behind the stumps – off spinners or the quicks.”

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Having said that, Hussey admitted to the importance of an additional batsmen in the absence of Kohli. After two batting collapses in two innings, India can do with another specialised batsman in the middle order in the form of Pant, who scored a century during India’s previous tour of Australia in 2018/19 and recently struck a blazing century with the pink ball against Australia A.

“However, you take Virat Kohli out of the equation and you’re bringing in obviously a lesser batsman. Perhaps the extra runs that Rishabh Pant can provide does become a consideration. I’m still leaning towards sticking with Saha but I’ll be open to conversation and seeing what the senior members of the team think,” Hussey said.

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