Karthik praises Saha, sympathises with him; but says Pant cemented his place in Team India

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Veteran India wicketkeeper batter Dinesh Karthik on Tuesday said he could understand it would have been very hard for Wriddhiman Saha to accept that the team management decided to move on from him but added the decision was pretty understandable as Rishabh Pant had cemented his place in the side.

The 37-year-old Saha was left out from India’s Test squad for the upcoming two-match series against Sri Lanka, with Rishabh Pant and KS Bharat the two wicketkeepers selected. Saha later revealed he was told by India head coach Rahul Dravid that the team would look to move on from the veteran.

Karthik praised Saha for his contributions to Indian cricket, adding that he is still one of the best wicketkeepers in the world.

“Kudos to Wriddhiman Saha. I think he has been one of those brilliant, quiet servants of Indian cricket who has done so well over a period of years,” Karthik said in The ICC Review.

“He is still one of the best wicketkeepers in the world, by a distance — I rate him as the best wicketkeeper in the world. He has got great hands, he moves really well… he is a terrific wicketkeeper. And add to the fact, he has a few centuries in international cricket and played some really crucial, important knocks when Team India needed it,” he added.

Despite that, following the emergence of Rishabh Pant, Karthik said it was understandable why the team management took the decision to move on from Saha.

“Just like MS Dhoni came in all those years ago, we’ve had Rishabh Pant who’s come in over the last couple of years and has done really well. When that happens, Saha has obviously become the second wicketkeeper and he has been travelling with the team and playing the odd match here and there,” he said.

“But you can see Rishabh Pant has pretty much nailed his place in the team. So then, you can understand which direction the Indian team is going in where they feel that if it’s going to be a second keeper role, then they’ll look at somebody younger.

“Because in time, it’s important to groom somebody, so that they can keep carrying the person along, whenever longer tours are required and whenever in these days even in home games, you require two keepers. So I understand the direction in which they have moved in,” he added.

Karthik was sympathetic towards Saha, who has represented India in 40 Tests, scoring 1353 runs with three centuries and six fifties, and has also been outstanding with the gloves, effecting 104 dismissals, saying it was not easy for a cricketer to accept they are being moved on.

“I’m pretty sure from wherever I’ve seen with Wriddhiman’s interviews, he understands where this decision is coming from. I know no cricketer is going to accept that when you’re being told to move on. It is a very hard one because this is what they’ve been doing day in and day out,” the batter said.

“All of us want to represent the country and that is the burning desire for everybody. So that when somebody comes in says, ‘I think your time is done,’ it can be a hard one to swallow. But it is understandable and you have to understand where the selectors, the coach and the captain are coming from,” he added.

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