Pant all set to miss Australia series, three-way race between Bharat, Upendra and Kishan

PTI, Jan 1, 2023, 10:07 AM IST

The extent of Rishabh Pant’s ligament tear, after his horrific car accident, is yet to be ascertained but if BCCI sources are to be believed, he is set to miss the upcoming four-Test series against Australia.

Pant’s absence from competitive cricket could be a prolonged one and it will be premature to even zero in on a date at this point in time, and hence, one of the biggest challenges for the new selection committee will be to select the two keeper-batters for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

The Indian Test wicketkeeper’s slot is now suddenly up for grabs and it could be an interesting three-horse race between Pant’s current understudy Kona Bharat, India A’s second keeper Upendra Yadav and white-ball specialist, Ishan Kishan, when the Test series starts in Nagpur from February 9.

The 25-year-old lost control of his Mercedes car while driving from Delhi to Rourkee on Friday morning and hit the divider near Mohammadpur Jat in Manglaur area. He was first rushed to a local medical facility but is now being treated at Max Dehradun for multiple injuries.

While X-Ray and CT scan reports have ruled out any fractural, brain or spinal injuries, the multiple ligament tear in his knee and ankle will certainly keep him out for an extensive period. It could be anything between two to six months depending upon the grade of the ligament tear.

“He has extensive swelling so MRI of ankle and knee is yet to be conducted. Once he is fit enough to travel, he will come to Mumbai where he will be under the board’s empanelled doctor Dinshaw Pardiwala,” a BCCI source told PTI on the condition of anonymity.

The new selection committee will have effectively three choices. The two India A keepers Bharat and Upendra straightaway make it to the main squad or a dashing left-hander like Kishan could make the cut.

In the case of Sanju Samson and Kishan, both didn’t keep in Ranji Trophy for Kerala and Jharkhand respectively.

Technically, Bharat being the second keeper of the Test side could make his debut in Nagpur but, as a package, Upendra is far better. He is a good keeper and a clean hitter with an average of 45 plus.

However, in the case of Pant, there is an X-factor which Bharat or Upendra, despite being good performers, don’t possess.

Ishan or Sanju are better choices having already handled pressures of international cricket, but both will now regret handing over the big gloves to Kumar Kushagra and Ponnan Rahul, respectively.

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