From Farokh Engineer to MS Dhoni, how Indian wicketkeepers have fared in Tests in Australia
MS Dhoni averaged 19.43 from eight Tests in Australia. @AFP

Australia has traditionally not been a very successful country for Indian wicketkeepers down the years, and this puts Rishabh Pant under the spotlight as the first Test between India  and Australia  gets underway at Adelaide Oval on Thursday.

Pant, 21, will keep wickets and bat at No 7 in an Indian lineup led by Virat Kohli and on the signs of his five career Test matches, he could swing matters either way – depending on how you look at it.

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In his debut series this summer in England, Pant played the last three Test and finished with 162 runs at an average of 27, scoring a century in the fifth match, and holding 15 catches. Seven of those came in his first Test while becoming the first Indian wicketkeeper to take five catches in an innings on debut.

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Pant got off the mark with a six in Tests and looked good in his maiden innings of 24, but thereon his batting nosedived until his last innings, a thrilling 114  that helped India give England a scare. That is, until he recklessly charged Adil Rashid and miscued to long-off.

Rishabh Pant has a century and two nineties in his career but his focus is in question
Rishabh Pant has a century and two nineties in his career but his focus is in question.
(IANS Photo)

Against West Indies at home, Pant scored 92 and 92 in two Tests and both times threw away a hundreds that were there for the taking. That kind of attitude will be under the scanner in Australia where his role as batsman and wicketkeeper promises to be tested the most it has in his short career.

History shows that Indian wicketkeepers have struggled to score runs in Australia.

Indian wicketkeepers batting record in Australia Tests: 

Name M I Runs HS Avg 50s
S Kirmani 11 17 471 55 29.43 2
MS Dhoni 8 18 311 57* 19.43 1
F Engineer 4 8 215 89 26.87 1
P Patel 4 6 160 62 32 1
K More 3 6 143 67* 28.60 1
W Saha 3 6 111 35 18.50 0
MSK Prasad 3 6 52 14 8.66 0
C Pandit 2 3 31 15 10.33 0
PK Sen 3 6 29 13 5.80
J Irani 2 3 3 2* 3.00 0

Statistically, the most successful Indian wicketkeeper in Australia is Syed Kirmani who in 17 innings scored 471 runs at 29.43 with two fifties.Then comes MS Dhoni, who managed 311 in 18 innings at an average of 19.43 with a solitary half-century. Farokh Engineer played four Tests in Australia and averaged 26.87, with one fifty. Kiran More (160 runs at 28.60), Parthiv Patel (160 at 32) and Wriddhiman Saha (111 at 18.50) are the only Indian wicketkeepers with 100 runs in Australia.

The current chairman of selectors MSK Prasad tallied 52 at 8.66 in six innings doing the 1999-2000 tour and Chandrakant Pandit played two Tests in 1992 from which he got 31 runs. Two Indian wicketkeepers have made their Test debuts in Australia: Jenni Irani in 1947 and Khokhan Sen in 1948.

As for dismissals, Dhoni held the most in Australia: 35 (31 catches, four stumpings). Then came Kirmani with 27 (18 catches, nine stumpings) and Engineer, More, Pandit and Parthiv with 11 each.